Richard Haass: “If I were from Latin America, I would not want China to be the dominant external power”

“It is realistic that they ask me about China in their region, because it is very present and the US is more absent than present”lamented the influential Richard Haass during his conference at the Argentine Council for International Relations. For him, China is undoubtedly the main challenge facing his country and says he’s frustrated with how friction is dealt with. “If I were in their shoes (if I were from Latin America) I would not want China to be the dominant external power,” he said.

Haass knows what he’s talking about. It is President of the Council on Foreign Relations, the organization specializing in foreign policy and international affairs of the United States. What’s more, he was Director of Political Planning for the US State Department (2001-2003), and special envoy of President George W. Bush to Northern Ireland and Coordinator for the Future of Afghanistan.

The American made the warning about China after a consultation from Carola Ramón Berjano, member of the CARI executive committee, on how to achieve “a healthy balance” when one of the great powers openly expresses its interest in Latin America and the other does not. For Haass, if the region is concerned about China’s advance, it should go to the US with proposals. Now, for better or for worse, one of the most powerful domestic forces in American foreign policy is concerned about China. So if there are useful ideas to position the US against Chinese influence, it doesn’t matter if they are from Latin America, there could be interest, “he said. “The smallest or medium-sized countries like Argentina can be centers of intellectual and diplomatic innovation, we need them. We must make up for the lack of resources with creativity ”, he added.

The president of CARI, José Octavio Bordón, presented Richard Haass’s lecture “The world after 9/11”

Haass assured that The fronts that worry the most about China are the issue of Taiwan and its advance on the China Sea, but there is also a lot of concern about the ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative., Xi Xinping’s project that aims to revitalize the Silk Road. And also The issue of investments, economic competition … “And since it cannot be stopped, you have to compete, you have to offer alternatives. We need a commercial policy ”.

The former diplomat used a question from Diego Guelar, the former Argentine ambassador to China, about 5G technology to reinforce his initiative to “look for alternatives.” “If we don’t want to become dependent on the infrastructure controlled by China, we have to have an alternative. If we do not want Chinese 5G, we must have a better one and, clearly, in the US we have the capacity to do it. “

Regarding the attack on the Twin Towers and the world it left behind, Haass rescued as interesting – in retrospect – that it was not the beginning of a stage defined by terrorism. “Thank God that has not happened in the last 20 years. Instead, the capabilities of many countries for counterintelligence were improved, the coordination of intelligence institutions was improved internally, and cooperation in the world, ”he explained. And he noted that the world reacted to 9/11 and improved its ability to prevent attacks. “It reinforced the idea that there is no difference between terrorists and sanctuary countries of terrorism.”

Vladimir Putin y Xi Jinping (Reuters)
Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping (Reuters) (SPUTNIK /)

Haass explained that today’s world is marked by the rivalry of three great powers: Russia, China and the United States. But he warned that this situation occurs simultaneously with three global challenges that cannot be ignored: climate change, public health (the pandemic) and terrorism. “The good news is that after 9/11 the world is not marked by terrorism, but the bad news is that it faces a growing rivalry of the powers.”

He cautions, however, that the world cannot afford to focus on one of these two scenarios, it must address them simultaneously. “Let’s say that the US manages to manage the rivalry with Russia and China, even so we can fail in global challenges because in the meantime climate change advances … We cannot give ourselves the privilege of choosing what to fight against,” he explained. “We need a foreign policy that allows us to deal with the rivalry of the powers, but still cooperate in the fields of global challenges: such as climate change, public health and terrorism ”.

“We are at a very delicate moment in history, let’s say I would like to be more optimistic than I am,” Haass admitted.


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