. . . only a few years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US once again is faced with a self-defined rival to its sole superpower status. Thus, for all the fashionable talk of multipolarity, the US faces a new bipolar relationship not unlike that between the US and the Soviet Union after World War II. 21
Consequently, this problematic relationship should be managed with the same kind of consistency that the previous American presidents paid to US-Soviet relations. Furthermore, the new world powers, like the European Union, should be more assertive in their policies. The European Union has its problems in becoming a strong international player. If one wants to have a role in international trade relations, it cannot be done without a strengthened role in political and strategic relations.
One of the problems in managing relations with China results from the fact that it is not a friend, but not a foe either, to the US or to the European Union.
There is nothing in China's recent history that threatens America enough to engage in a costly containment strategy against China. However, China is destined to become a superpower, and at the same time, Russia is doomed to lose the same status. In the past a hegemonic war has resulted from this kind of fundamental strategic shift in power relations. However, a major war can be avoided. 22
Much is at stake and will depend on the skills and visions of the leaders of the three key actors: China, the European Union and the United States. Russia's role is to join one of them; if isolated, it is too weak to challenge the change anyway. The United States and the European Union have to help China to choose the right road.