November 10th 2021

MCI Livetalk with Brad Glosserman about the competition between superpowers.

MCI-Livetalk mit Brad Glosserman.



How can the current engagement between U.S. and China be described, where will it lead and how does this affect the EU and other countries in their contribution to world economy and technological development? At MCI Live Talk renowned expert Brad Glosserman shared his view and recommendations on this world power competition.

Right away, Glosserman gives the most important motto for dealing with all dimensions of this relationship and shaping the way of interaction: “cooperate where we can, compete where we should and confront when we must”. He emphasizes that the situation between the United States and China is not a new Cold War, because the confrontation is much more complex and difficult. As the Chinese are creating connections, setting standards, installing technologies and therefore challenging an economic competition, it will need competitive development strategies to be able to keep up.

Among the many ways of handling the tense situation, there is one thing Glosserman advises the U.S. not to do: choosing the path of isolation and pushing its allies to turn their back on China as well. Finding compromises would, without question, be the better way: “instead of changing China, the U.S. goal is to create fair circumstances in which the two countries can operate open freely and to shape the international environment in a way that it is more favorable to the United States than to China”.

Another requirement to achieve a balance would be a certain flexibility on both sides, that is missing at the moment. Glosserman even emphasizes: “An inability to recognize that both sides have to compromise is going to be potentially fatal and it’s not going to allow us to move forward”. One additional extremely troubling issue is the increase of tensions between China and Taiwan. According to Glosserman it is clear, that nobody wants an escalations to a physical conflict but the crisis management mechanisms do not seem to function very well and leave the danger of miscalculation.

The competition is also bound by China’s capabilities. Currently the West wants to achieve a 5 to 10 year lead in economy and it’s more about a new dimension: making sure China cannot compete. Brad Glosserman therefore suggests that another important key to the future competition is investing in technology as a world position is defined by whose technologies are adapted: “the one setting the standards is going to be first”. However, the focus should not be set on military applications - countries with a stronghold on artificial intelligence, biotech, robotics and energy will be in the lead regardless of their military qualities.

Resolving the future relationship between the U.S. and China will be hard but Brad Glosserman advices to identify areas of common interests, work on climate change issues, figure out ways to push North Korea back to negotiations about their nuclear weapons and to establish powerful management mechanisms. As the Chinese government is not prepared to work with the United States whilst they feel threatened in other areas, it will be crucial to push transparency and standards through, while learning from Europe how to guard principles of international order and support and defend ideals of democracy and human rights. “We have to believe in our ideas and promote them, demonstrate their strengths and how they are superior. We may appear softer but that doesn’t make us weaker.”