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(2021) CDF Dialogue: Cooperation and Competition between US and China

William S. Cohen, former US Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Cohen Group

We are currently engaged in "World War III" with one common enemy - the virus. Everyone is fighting the same enemy on a global basis.  Every country aspires to secure a leading position in the playing field of healthcare and safety, poverty alleviation, and economic propensity. In order to achieve that, we need to connect and collaborate with allies whenever we can. US and China can certainly cooperate in multiple fields, but real competition coexists. It is important to collaborate when the alliance is required and compete when our country’s interest is challenged. That is what competition is for, as long as it is fair, open, and transparent.

Host (Lu Mai): Do you see the possibility of China and the US cooperating in combating the pandemic or any other field?

Absolutely, we have much to learn from each other. Both of our countries have great scientists, and there is no one virus that only fits for Chinese people or the American people. The real key issue for us and the world is how we manufacture, deliver, and distribute the vaccine in volume distribute vaccines on a national and global scale. It is important where we find issues to work together, and fighting viruses is certainly one area. And it is essential to locate areas where we build the bridges to have conversations with each other to try to reduce the tensions and differences to find out where we could compromise. I do believe that problems should be approached through a “win-win” situation. We have to consciously construct the communication bridges; otherwise we will become isolated islands. And that will impede cross-border trades and cause more tensions and lead to potential conflicts.