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Editorial: Work needed to fulfill Biden’s ‘not seeking a new Cold War’ pledge in UN speech

U.S. President Joe Biden recently delivered his first United Nations General Assembly speech. He made a case for an America that would seek a collaborative approach with China and place emphasis on diplomacy over military power. We recognize his vision as a strong pledge to the international community.


Without mentioning it by name, President Biden was referring to U.S.-China relations, one of the main focuses in U.S. diplomacy, by saying, “We are not seeking a new Cold War or a world divided into rigid blocs,” and stated that Washington is “ready to work with any nation that steps up and pursues peaceful resolution to shared challenges, even if we have intense disagreements in other areas.”


Regarding the withdrawal from Afghanistan where U.S. troops remained for 20 years, Biden said the country was closing “this period of relentless war” and “opening a new era of relentless diplomacy.”


At the same stage four years ago, then U.S. President Donald Trump emphasized “America first” despite the U.N. General Assembly being a platform to talk about international cooperation. Addressing North Korea, which had continued to take provocative actions, he said the United States “will have no choice but to totally destroy” it if necessary.


Compared to Trump’s speech that disappointed the world, Biden’s was encouraging, as the international community had been showing concerns over the ever-intensifying U.S.-China conflict.


What is important now for America is to walk the talk on not creating a new Cold War.


Biden claimed in his speech, with China and other countries in mind, “The authoritarianism of the world may seek to proclaim the end of the age of democracy, but they’re wrong.” Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping in a video speech warned against the U.S. and others, saying that military intervention and democratic reform by foreign countries would bring about “unmeasurable calamities.”


Mutual distrust between the two superpowers runs deep, and their military expansion continues. It’s not an easy task to resolve the differences in understanding between the two.


While Biden emphasized rebuilding alliances in his speech, the U.S. unilaterally pulled out from Afghanistan, which was working toward democratization. This has rather swayed America’s relationship of trust with its allies.


Unlike the time during the U.S.-Soviet Union Cold War, the world has become globalized and mutual dependency stronger. In reality, there is no room for the “Iron Curtain” that divides the United States and China.


To tackle the many global scale challenges, including climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, the U.S. and China need to take responsibility in leading the world. These issues should also serve as a common ground for the two countries to work together.


Precisely because the two superpowers have a poor relationship of mutual trust, tireless dialogue is essential to avoid an unexpected contingency. A face-to-face summit meeting between the two leaders should be held at an early stage to find a footing to overcome their differences.

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