Robert E. Rubin, former US secretary of the Treasury, covers in this New York Times opinion piece why the US and China would be acting in their own best interest to cooperate, both in terms of general welfare, and economic benefit. While Rubin's argument is centered around the general welfare aspect of US-Chinese relations, focusing on the two specific topics of combating climate change, and potential nuclear conflict in the future, the basis of his argument still relates strongly with a case for economic liberalism. Economic liberalism would dictate that the primary reason for interaction between the US and China would be to generate increased wealth and prosperity, which is in the self interest of both nations. Here the purpose of economic activity in the liberal model is essentially baseline self-interest, which is more specifically defined as wealth. However, Rubin’s case for nuclear prevention, and combating climate change both represent the US and China acting out of self-interest, as both represent not only threats to their respective economies, but general prosperity. For these reasons Rubin’s article acknowledges and advocates for the use of the liberal model in the international system.
Another key tenet of the liberal model that Rubin’s article covers; is the purpose of cooperation in the international economy. In economic liberalism, cooperation occurs to resolve conflict, and the economic conflicts that Rubin focuses on (while they may be framed primarily as threats to the general welfare) are the grave economic externalities of climate change, and the threat of nuclear weapons. Rubin states the importance of two of the world’s largest economies cooperating to resolve these conflicts, however, in the current US administration, the conditions may not be set for cooperation between the US and China. A primary condition for conflict in the liberal model is isolationist policies and tariffs, and this is the primary divider between the US and China, however Rubin remains hopeful that the US and China will cooperate under future administrations, for the sake of the welfare of the international system, and the two nations’ economic interests.
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