West should bear in mind China's uniqueness

Having witnessed major changes over past decades, US scholar calls for deeper understanding and open dialogue

By CHEN YINGQUN and LIU JIANQIAO | China Daily Global | Updated: 2024-05-24 09:30
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College students from the United States try on Peking Opera costumes at Jixiang Theatre in Beijing on May 17. ZOU HONG/CHINA DAILY

Encountering challenges

In the past few years, China-US relations have met with challenges and for a certain time hit a historical low point.

While Pomeranz has not experienced any significant personal effect from this environment, he believes the broader academic community has been negatively affected by the strained bilateral relationship, potentially being pressured to align with one country or the other, which he finds "unfortunate".

"Just 10 or 15 years ago, it was common for talented young people in the sciences to think that they would spend their careers going back and forth across the Pacific," he said. "It is much harder now."

Pomeranz said there is the possibility of genuine competition between China and the US in certain areas, where it may be strategically challenging for both parties to share specific types of data and information.

"But that doesn't mean that we have to then stop sharing all sorts of other kinds of information and all sorts of other kinds of conversation that are not strategic at all," he added.

It would take some effort for both sides to work together to rebuild trust in each other, Pomeranz said, and during times of strained state-to-state relations, the need for people-to-people exchanges becomes even more crucial.

Many global issues, spanning from climate change to artificial intelligence and cybersecurity, require collaboration between the two largest economies. It is imperative that dialogue takes place and the involvement of all parties is essential, he said.

China and the US have real disagreements about certain issues, he said, and it is unrealistic for either side to ignore these differences.

"But there are also strange reactions to some of those problems that are exacerbated by long-standing prejudice and by certain kinds of fear. Some things are made worse by a lack of information.

"On the Western front, I believe some of this stems from a sense of apprehension that has been redirected toward China by individuals who recognize that the world is evolving. This transformation may not necessarily be favorable to them, and they are uncertain about the reasons behind it.

"However, due to China's substantial influence, it becomes convenient to attribute the changes to China and label it as the sole explanation."

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