The U.S. Can’t Make Allies Take Sides Over China

Washington wants its friends to steer clear of Beijing, but they can’t ignore the allure of its Belt and Road Initiative.


APR 25, 2019






The next summit for China’s grandiose Belt and Road Initiative, beginning on Thursday in Beijing, will host one especially welcome guest: Italy.


Washington pressured Rome, a proud member of the G7, to steer clear of Beijing’s global infrastructure-building program, warning that Italy’s participation “lends legitimacy to China’s predatory approach to investment and will bring no benefits to the Italian people.” The plea fell on deaf ears: Not only did Rome sign on to Belt and Road in March, no less a figure than the prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, will attend this week’s gathering.

美国政府向七国集团(G7)成员国罗马施压,要求其回避中国的全球基础设施建设计划。美国警告称,意大利的参与为中国掠夺性的投资方式提供了合法性,不会给意大利人民带来任何好处。这一警告被置若罔闻:罗马不仅在今年3月签署了一带一路协议,就连总理朱塞佩孔戴(Giuseppe Conte)也将出席本周的会议。


Italy’s snub may appear to be yet another sign that American power is on the wane while China’s is on the rise. Score: China 1, United States 0. But Italy’s decision is even more an indication of how such thinking has become dangerously out of date in the modern world order. While Washington still often perceives foreign policy in us-against-them terms, much of the rest of the world no longer does. That’s why in its attempts to contain China, the U.S. is discovering, to its dismay, that its allies aren’t always on board.



No one wants to choose sides,” ParagKhanna, founder of the strategic advisory firm FutureMap and author of the book The Future Is Asian, told me. “We live in a multipolar system. No smart country sides with only one power. Instead they play all the powers off each other to derive maximum benefit for themselves.”

战略咨询公司FutureMap的创始人、《未来是亚洲》(the Future Is Asian)一书的作者帕拉格卡纳(ParagKhanna):“没有人愿意选边站队。”“我们生活在一个多边体系中。没有哪个聪明的国家只支持一个强国。相反,他们利用彼此的所有力量为自己谋取最大利益。


 As the U.S. and China spar over everything from trade to technology, fears have risen that the world is spiraling into a renewed Cold War, with two ideologically opposed blocs battling it out for global dominance. But, as Khanna noted, that Cold War paradigm has “almost no relevancy” today.



Chinese paramilitary policemen march past a decor for the Belt and Road Forum outside the special plane terminal of the Beijing International airport where foreign leaders are expected to arrive in Beijing on Wednesday, April 24, 2019. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, Pool)

中国武警走过北京一带一路论坛前的一个展台。NG HAN GUAN /美联社



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