“Chinese leaders have long made it their business to understand America in a manner that their American counterparts have rarely felt the need to reciprocate,” notes Kevin Rudd, a former Australian prime minister who has studied, lived in, and worked with China for more than forty years in his recent book.
An important aim of the author’s book is to bring Western readers closer to understanding the thinking of the Chinese leadership. In his book, he identifies the ten concentric circles of interest in Chinese President Xi Jinping’s worldview – the centrality of Xi and the party, maintaining and securing national unity, growing the Chinese economy, environmental sustainability, modernising the military, managing China’s neighbouring states, securing China’s maritime periphery, securing China’s western continental periphery, increasing China’s leverage across the developing world and rewriting the global rules-based order.
According to Rudd, a war between China and the US would be a geopolitical disaster, but it can still be avoided if the two giants find a way to coexist without betraying their core interests. The way to do this is what he calls “managed strategic competition”. The author argues that such a balanced framework allows both China and the United States to advance their respective regional and global objectives. The critical logic of managed strategic competition is to allow maximum competition across the full breadth of the foreign policy, economic, and security relationship while doing this within fixed political guardrails that minimise the risk of crisis, conflict and war.
Kevin Rudd admits that this approach is far from perfect, but he challenges his critics to come up with a credible alternative.
Mariann Őry is managing editor at Eurasia
Publication date: 2022