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The Group of Two (G-2 or G2) is a proposed informal special relationship between the United States and China. Originally initiated by C. Fred Bergsten as primarily an economic relationship, it began to gain wider currency and scope from foreign policy experts as a term recognizing the centrality of the U.S.-China relationship near the beginning of the Obama Administration. Prominent advocates include former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, historian Niall Ferguson, World Bank President Robert Zoellick and chief economist Justin Yifu Lin.

As the two most influential and powerful countries in the world, there has been increasingly strong suggestions within American political circles of creating a G-2 relationship where the United States and China would work out solutions to global problems together.[1]


The concept of a G-2 was first raised by noted economist C. Fred Bergsten in 2005.[2] In 2009, Bergsten made the following arguments for such a relationship:

  • "the two together accounted for almost one half of all global growth during the four-year boom prior to the crisis;"
  • "they are the two largest trading nations;"
  • "they are the two largest polluters;"
  • "they are on opposite ends of the world's largest trade and financial imbalance: the United States is the largest deficit and debtor country while China is the largest surplus country and holder of dollar reserves; and"
  • "they are the leaders of the two groups, the high-income industrialized countries and the emerging markets/developing nations, that each now account for about one half of global output."[3]

Zbigniew Brzezinski, former U.S. National Security Advisor has been a vocal advocate for the concept. He publicly advanced the notion in Beijing in January 2009 as the two countries celebrated the 30th anniversary of establishing formal diplomatic ties.[4] He views the informal G-2 as helpful in finding solutions to the global financial crisis, climate change, North Korea's nuclear programme, Iran's nuclear program, the India-Pakistan tensions, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, UN peacekeeping, nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. He called the principle of "harmony" a "mission worthy of the two countries with the most extraordinary potential for shaping our collective future."[5][6]

Historian Niall Ferguson has also advocated the G-2 concept. He coined the term Chimerica to describe the symbiotic nature of the U.S.-China economic relationship.

Robert Zoellick, president of the World Bank, and Justin Yifu Lin, the Bank's chief economist and senior vice president, has stated that the G-2 is crucial for economic recovery and that the U.S. and China must work together. They state that "without a strong G-2, the G-20 will disappoint."[7]

While widely discussed, the concept of a G-2 has not been fully defined. According to Brzezinski, G-2 described the current realities while for British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, a G-2 could emerge in the foreseeable future.[8] Miliband proposes EU integration as a means to create a potential G-3 that consists of the United States, China and Europe.

China has officially stated that it does not agree to a G-2 system to make decisions for the world but prefers a multipolar world. Premier Wen Jiabao voiced this to President Barack Obama during his visit to China.

President Barack Obama and United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have been very supportive of good relations between the two countries and more cooperation on more issues more often. Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has stated that U.S.-China relationship to be "taken to a new level". Some experts have disagreed with the effectiveness of a G-2.[9]

The G-2 concept has been often evoked in international media during major bilateral meetings such as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and state visits as well as during global summits like the G-20 meetings and the Copenhagen Summit.

See also




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