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Interview: former French diplomat Hubert Védrine on China and a West 'in disarray'

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Actually, the multipolar world is a multipolar scuffle, pitting everyone against everyone. That is why it is very difficult for the West to agree on its main interests and present a common position vis-à-vis China. Nor are the Europeans able to do that, which allows China to play one against another very easily. The Europeans should say, all together, that they want a strategic partnership with China, and that they will greet the Dalai Lama once a year. We weren’t able to do that but that’s what we should do -- vis-à-vis the US as well. But the future is not written yet. It depends on us, partly. China will try to go as far as possible, without making serious commitments. China now sees its emergence as a legitimate revenge on history. Conversely, our interest is to integrate China as much as we can.

Q: China was comfortable with the Bush team. The war on terror worked for Beijing. Now China worries that Obama will sell missiles to Taiwan and stress transparency in Chinese banking, Internet, and its institutions. How difficult will this be?

A: China’s going to be a problem for the next 30 years! Besides, the Chinese question is more complex than the Soviet one. The Soviet question was basically a dilemma between rollback and containment. We need China, whereas we didn’t need the Soviet Union. But China is a threat that you can’t contain through nuclear deterrence only.

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