Wednesday May 27, 2020

May 30, 2017

Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski gives keynote remarks at the USCPF's 17th Annual Gala Dinner

Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Adviser for President Jimmy Carter, passed away on Friday. He will be remembered as a respected political strategist, influential adviser, and global scholar. Brzezinski pushed the Carter administration to open up ties with China and was instrumental in the establishment of full diplomatic relations in 1979.

After leaving the government, Dr. Brzezinski maintained his expertise on U.S.-China relations and continued to provide his astute insights into the relationship. The U.S.-China Policy Foundation (USCPF) was honored to welcome Dr. Brzezinski as our keynote speaker at our Annual Gala Dinner in 2012. Many of his remarks are still pertinent today.

His full 2012 speech can be read here. Experts are included below.

“These days some in fact argue that the emerging American-Chinese duopoly in the world must inherently generate eventual hostility, and hence they conclude that conflict between America and China is inevitable. And admittedly, it is a historical fact that during the last 200 years – since the onset of what we might call global politics – four long wars were fought for domination over Europe….And indeed, every one of these conflicts could have resulted in global hegemony by a sole power….However, I personally do not believe that wars for global domination are still a serious prospect in what is now clearly the post-hegemonic age.”

“That having been said, it is true nonetheless that we cannot entirely ignore the fact that the hopeful expectations in recent years of a totally amicable American-Chinese relationship have lately been tested by somewhat more antagonistic polemics – especially in our respective mass medias – fueled in part by speculation about America’s allegedly inevitable decline and about China’s relentless rapid rise. In the mass media, economically anxious American pessimists and nationalistically exuberant Chinese optimists have been prolific and outspoken, but also a little simplistic.”

“In any case, and that is my central point, the real threat to a stable U.S.-China relationship arises neither from America’s or from China’s hostile intentions, but from the disturbing possibility that the revitalized Asia may slide into nationalistic fervor which then precipitates conflicts in Asia reminiscent of 20th century Europe over natural resources, or territory, or national power.”

A 2010 article Dr. Brzezinski wrote for the New York Times titled “How to Stay Friends With China” also continues to ring true. In it, he says:

“There are growing uncertainties regarding the state of the bilateral relationship, as well as concerns in Asia over China’s longer-range geopolitical aspirations….The worst outcome for Asia’s long-term stability as well as for the American-Chinese relationship would be a drift into escalating reciprocal demonization. What’s more, the temptations to follow such a course are likely to grow as both countries face difficulties at home.”

“Thirty years after their collaborative relationship started, the United States and China should not flinch from a forthright discussion of their differences — but they should undertake it with the knowledge that each needs the other. A failure to consolidate and widen their cooperation would damage not just both nations but the world as a whole. Neither side should delude itself that it can avoid the harm caused by an increased mutual antagonism; both should understand that a crisis in one country can hurt the other.”