Building bridges together by resetting the global relationship landscape
The value of relationships
The value of relations can be dated far back into ancient history, a recent history of wars, the development of countries, and today’s modern political landscape, and all the way down to the everyday life you and I live as well.
We see the importance of relations plays a critical role in how we are able to pave the way for opportunities, new perspectives, and much more. However, at the same time lack of relations can lead to very minimized opportunities professionally and personally.
Political relations vs Personalized professional relations
It’s well documented that relations can have many different meanings, outcomes, and prerequisites based on the nature of the relation. For example, we can’t always compare relations between countries to be on the same level as that of people-to-people relations from different countries. However, there is one thing that does drive a sphere of commonality between the two. People to people relations. It has the potential to impact positive political relations or negative political relations to a large degree.
When looking at the current scenario from a China perspective and its relations worldwide, it may be easy to come to multiple conclusions and opinions from all the various biased, unbiased news articles we keep reading on various platforms.
However, it is wise to take a step back and understand a cycle of people-to-people relations being transitioned into political relations, and why we need to reset and start afresh.
Let’s go back in time to see an evolution of China and the United States of America’s relations. I take the US as the main case study here because both China and the US today are the two most powerful economies and much of what happens in these two countries has ripple effects on the world economy, environment, supply chain, etc.
1986-90: After a devastating period of the Cultural Revolution, a new era of China’s opening-up reforms that sought to attract inflows of foreign capital, technology, and management know-how propelled China to utilize its vast labor resources, space, and thereby accelerating its economic growth. Diplomatic ties with several western countries notably that with the United States of America were normalized after years of tensions. This set China on a path of growth and made them an attractive economic prospect for the rest of the world.
2000-2002: A significant period in the history of China’s economic growth as they are granted trade relations with the United States under the US-China Relations Act. This then enabled China to be inducted into the World Trade Organization in 2001. The world’s largest importer and exporter respectively began an upward trajectory in which both their citizens benefited immensely.
2008-2010: A significant turning point when the financial crisis hit the world. This as we know was predominantly caused by a failure in the financial systems of the United States and consequently had ripple negative effects on the world economy. It is said that a shift in the mantle started during that period of time coupled with a lack of trust towards the United States within the Chinese government and people. However, trade relations continued as normal and China replaced Japan as the US’ largest foreign creditor, holding $600bn in treasuries. As of early 2021, China holds around 4 percent of the US’s $28 trillion national debt. By 2010, China had edged past Japan in terms of being the second-largest economy in GDP terms and many well-established financial institutions predicted that China will be the number one economy by 2027 or 2028. We now know that this could be achieved sooner than the predicted years
A mistake from the very beginning?
Shortly after it was established that China was on an upward trajectory of growth in all aspects be it the economy, military, technology, living standards, western countries most notably the USA realized China will be a force to reckon with.
Rather than fostering better and more long-term relations, they went on the offensive, and in 2011 shifted their focus to increasing their presence in Asia. Slowly disagreements on various sensitive issues sprung and by 2015, US-China were already having hugely different views on the South China Sea, trade, and many other disputes. By the time President Trump arrived relations went downhill and if you’re following the news regularly not much needs to be written further. In fact, we need to ask ourselves that how did it all go so wrong? Shouldn’t the two largest economies have been setting newer standards and increasing prosperity that can be shared across the world? What part of building relationships did they get wrong?
Relations between US-China and most countries are set based on business opportunities. In other words, MONEY TALKS. To put it simply a negotiation may consist of just what can you give me and what will I give you? The nitty-gritty of those negotiations are of course complex and sorted out later.
However, the point being made here is that decisions made purely based on economic gains are prone to fall out over a period of time. Why did the USA not take time to understand China, and why did not China take time to understand the USA. Surely, both nations only played to their own interests and they now play catch up on their misunderstandings of values, principles, culture, and almost everything.
Why do international relations between the US, China, and many other countries need a reset
Relations need to be mutually advantageous, economically beneficial, and representational of shared values and ethics. No doubts about this. However, this can only be achieved when the people of two countries begin to understand each other, respect each other, understand cultures, history, mentality, and expectations from life. This does not mean they have to always be in agreement. Disagreement is a great way to probe and further find mutual understanding. When the majority of people of two different countries can achieve this, long-lasting relations will fall in place, not because of political strategies, but because people understand each other, are willing to compromise, forgive and move forward.
These decisions would be based on the collective unanimity of two countries' people rather than the unanimity of a handful of politicians who only think in their own interests. Every now and then certain historic moments appear into our lives which we collectively confront, and are mostly a manifestation of human actions, but it presents us with an opportunity to reunite and pivot towards a better collective and prosperous future. One which the generations after us can appreciate and utilize resources to the best of their ability in a sustainable manner. Strangely so, everything written in this article is nothing unknown, everyone is aware of these ideals and yet we do not strive to be the change we so dearly want. We wait upon a handful of those political leaders to do it for us. Are they really doing it? In short, I would say NO, you are welcome to disagree. Can normal people do anything about it? YES.
Here are a few of the many things we could do to build bridges and connect our world into a more understanding place to live in:
Leveraging content creating platforms at tools to create culturally informational content in an engaging manner i.e., as an example, a cartoon/comic approach is seen as very reader-friendly and applicable to all age groups which is really the key here.
Creating self-taught content through gamification and presenting it with stories so that people of all age groups can learn culture, history and be able to visually imagine different cultures in their minds.
Creating platforms for normal citizens to engage and share their opinions with each other because the more we learn the more we understand and the more we will be able to grow together without having a feeling of threat from each other. Something politicians have excelled in doing.
Sharing experiences of traveling by writing blogs, articles, or creating videos so that people around the world can see different countries through the lens of normal people.
These are the relations that should be built first. It will help us understand each other, build commonalities, build bridges, and understand who we were, are, and wish to be from the normal person's perspective.
If we, the people understand each other, politicians will eventually over a period of time have to make decisions based on their people's interests and not their own personal interests. People are power but do not misinterpret it. So, let’s put that forward in a better way, shall we? Informed people are power. Most importantly, the quality and reliability of this information are key and this is why more normal citizens need to be part of creating content that brings our world together.
Author: Adit Rastogi