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Moving toward a reconciliation of civilizations
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The US-China consultations regarding India and Pakistan can perhaps lead to more effective even if informal mediation, for a conflict between the two would be a regional calamity.

China should become actively involved in helping to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which increasingly poses the risk of a radicalized and dangerously unstable Middle East.

We need to develop a shared view on how to cope with the global risks posed by climate changes that could gravely threaten especially the poorest sections of humanity.

We should explore together the possibility of creating a larger stand-by UN peacekeeping force for contingent deployment in the event of massive collapses of social order in failed states. We should discuss together how an international initiative pointing toward a global adoption of the zero-nuclear weapons option might be helpful in stemming wider nuclear weapons proliferation.

We certainly need to collaborate closely in expanding the current G8 to a G14 or 16, in order to widen the global circle of decision-makers and to develop a more inclusive response to the current economic crisis. Otherwise, we all might face also a major crisis of global political instability.

But to promote all what we need an informal G2. The relationship between the US and China has to be truly a comprehensive global partnership, parallel our relations with Europe and Japan. Our top leaders should therefore meet informally on a regular schedule for truly personal in-depth discussions regarding not just about of bilateral relations but about the world in general. We have a common interest in global stability, in social progress worldwide, in successful domestic renewal and development, and in a renovated international system.

The foregoing points in a politically as well as philosophically ambitious direction. The Chinese emphasis on "harmony" can conserve as a useful point of departure for the needed of top-level US-Chinese summits.

In an era in which the risks of the massively destructive "clash of civilizations" are rising because of the unprecedented political awakening of the world's population, the deliberate promotion of a genuine reconciliation of civilizations is urgently needed.

It is a task which our next president Barack Obama who is a conciliator at heart should find congenial, and which Chinese President Hu Jintao who authored the concept of "a harmonious world" should welcome. It is a mission worthy of the two countries with the most extraordinary potential for shaping our collective future.

The author, Zbigniew Brzezinski, is a Polish-American geostrategist, and served as US National Security Advisor to president Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981.

This piece was a speech made by him at a seminar in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomaticlations between China and the US.

(China Daily January 15, 2009)

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