Orville Schell: China: Defending its Core Interest in the World – Part I
China has shown increasing intransigence towards the world in the defense of what it considers its core interest. This two-part series analyzes how China’s hard line policy may not have helped its best interest. Recent developments in the US-China relationship – both in politics, with the rocky start between presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao, and in business with Google’s partial retreat from the Chinese market are examples of this tough approach. In the first article, China historian Orville Schell notes that the Obama administration has taken heat from critics on the right and left for extending a series of friendly gestures to the nation with little to show in the way of tangible policy initiatives. If anything, some US observers noted that China became more aggressive with its demands. Some patience may be in order, as the US and China adjust to roles as collaborators rather than mere competitors and China rediscovers valuable lessons from its tradition. Schell explains that the notion of reciprocity, or “shu,” is a fundamental tenet of Confucian teachings. Rather than mark weakness, Schell contends that concessions and good intentions can serve as a catalyst to encourage reciprocity and move negotiations and relationships toward a higher level in resolving global problems, thus strengthening both nations.