The "elites" in the US are worried about big, bad China, and the same is true in reverse in Beijing, writes Henry Kissinger. "Care must be taken lest both sides analyze themselves into self-fulfilling prophecies," he writes in the Washington Post. A Cold War between the two would be disastrous, "spreading disputes into internal politics of every region at a time when issues such as nuclear proliferation, the environment, energy and climate require a comprehensive global solution."
Avoiding this will be no easy feat, and it requires both nations to keep their egos—or their competing views of "exceptionalism"—in check. Each thinks its national values should be the world's model, and reconciling that "is the deepest challenge of the Sino-American relationship." Nuanced negotiations will help: America tends to push tangible, quick-fix solutions to problems, while China "is comfortable managing contradictions without assuming they are resolvable," he writes. If they can set up a "consultative mechanism" that pays due respect to those differences at international conferences, the world will be a better place for a long time to come.