China-US re­la­tions’ road ahead

Some an­a­lysts are con­cerned over progress’ mean­ing

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By CHEN LONGXIANG in Bei­jing chen­longx­i­ang@chi­

It is easy for diplo­mats to say that the China-US re­la­tion­ship is both very im­por­tant and very com­plex, but dif­fi­cult for po­lit­i­cal pun­dits to pre­cisely de­fine the state of China-US re­la­tions, or to pre­dict the fu­ture of the re­la­tion­ship.

Historic de­vel­op­ments have been made in the process of China-US ex­changes since for­mer pres­i­dent Richard Nixon’s land­mark ice-break­ing trip to China in 1972. The three Joint Com­mu­niqués is­sued by the two sides laid the po­lit­i­cal foun­da­tion for the re­la­tion­ship and will con­tinue to guide the devel­op­ment of Chi­naUS re­la­tions.

While rec­og­niz­ing the great achieve­ments in bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion, some an­a­lysts are still wor­ried that con­flict be­tween China and the US is pos­si­ble, and in­creas­ingly likely.

John Mearsheimer, a pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Chicago, be­lieves that if China con­tin­ues its im­pres­sive eco­nomic growth over the next decades, the US and China are likely to en­gage in an in­tense se­cu­rity com­pe­ti­tion with con­sid­er­able po­ten­tial for war.

In The China Choice: Why Amer­ica Should Share Power, Hugh White, pro­fes­sor of strate­gic stud­ies at Aus­tralian Na­tional Univer­sity, writes that if the two coun­tries con­tinue to com­pete for pri­macy in the Pa­cific, a new Cold War will be the re­sult and he sug­gested that the US share power with China in the Asia-Pa­cific re­gion.

“As China is a ris­ing power and the US has su­per­power sta­tus, China’s en­deavor to re­gain its his­tor­i­cal place as world lead­ing power and the US’ re­fusal to re­lin­quish its sole-su­per­power sta­tus con­sti­tutes their great­est po­lit­i­cal con­flict,” said Yan Xue­tong, dean of the In­sti­tute of Mod­ern In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions at Ts­inghua


h na­tions should rea­son­ably ap­proach the in­evitable dif­fer­ences and even re­gional con­tra­dic­tions and peace­fully co­ex­ist in a truly non-con­fronta­tional man­ner.” SHI YIN­HONG PRO­FES­SOR WITH THE SCHOOL OF IN­TER­NA­TIONAL STUD­IES, REN­MIN UNIVER­SITY OF CHINA


Now Bei­jing wants the fu­ture China-US re­la­tion­ship to be newly con­structed, one dif­fer­ent from the his­tor­i­cal pat­tern of a ris­ing power col­lid­ing with an es­tab­lished power. That is why the idea of a new type of ma­jor-coun­try re­la­tion­ship put for­ward by Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping to de­scribe his hopes for the fu­ture of US-China re­la­tions is so im­por­tant. At the heart of this new model of ma­jor-coun­try re­la­tion­ship is no con­flict or con­fronta­tion, mu­tual re­spect and win-win co­op­er­a­tion.

In terms of China-US re­la­tions, a ma­jor-coun­try re­la­tion­ship first means the US truly treats China as a ma­jor coun­try and shows cor­re­spond­ing re­spect, said Shi Yin­hong, pro­fes­sor with the School of In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, Ren­min Univer­sity of China.

“Both na­tions should rea­son­ably ap­proach the in­evitable dif­fer­ences and even re­gional con­tra­dic­tions and peace­fully co­ex­ist in a truly non-con­fronta­tional man­ner. This will greatly ex­pand com­mon in­ter­ests, and con­duct more se­lec­tive col­lab­o­ra­tion at bi­lat­eral, mul­ti­lat­eral, and even global lev­els, so as to avoid harm to the world as well as to each other,” Shi said.

In­sta­bil­ity and re­silience have been char­ac­ter­iz­ing the China-US re­la­tion­ship since the two sides en­tered into of­fi­cial diplomatic re­la­tions 35 years ago. On one hand, the three main chronic prob­lems re­gard­ing Tai­wan, Ti­bet and trade still bother bi­lat­eral re­la­tions, while new chal­lenges emerge one af­ter another, such as cy­ber war­fare and es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions in the East and South China seas.

On the other hand, the two sides have es­tab­lished more than 90 di­a­logue mech­a­nisms cov­er­ing nearly all fields of bi­lat­eral ex­changes, which are help­ful ex­plo­rations for China and the US to cre­ate a frame­work to man­age the grow­ing com­plex­ity of bi­lat­eral, re­gional and global chal­lenges.

“In the next decade, with the power gap be­tween China and the US nar­row­ing and the struc­tural con­tra­dic­tions deep­en­ing, in­sta­bil­ity of bi­lat­eral re­la­tions will be­come more prom­i­nent, and fric­tion and con­flict be­tween the two sides will mainly ap­pear in East Asia”, Yan said.

In an in­ter­view with The Econ­o­mist re­cently, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama said ten­sions and con­flicts be­tween China and the US are man­age­able while the US has to be pretty firm with China. This is not the first time Obama has vowed to get tough with China, which he be­lieves is a “free rider”.

Henry Kissinger sug­gested ad­dress­ing bi­lat­eral dif­fer­ences with in­ge­nu­ity and de­ter­mi­na­tion in­stead of blam­ing a pu­ta­tive ad­ver­sary. How­ever, with the US mid-term elec­tion around the cor­ner, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion will con­tinue to main­tain its so-called tough at­ti­tude and mea­sures against China on many is­sues.

“In the next decade, there will be more and more con­tra­dic­tions be­tween China and the US, and it will be a tough decade, but the over­all re­la­tion­ship is con­trol­lable,” said Jin Can­rong, a pro­fes­sor in in­ter­na­tional stud­ies at Ren­min Univer­sity of China.

Look­ing for­ward to the fu­ture, the key de­ci­sion fac­ing both Bei­jing and Wash­ing­ton is to con­cert a gen­uine ef­fort at co­op­er­a­tion. As Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping said while de­liv­er­ing a speech at the open­ing cer­e­mony of the sixth round of the China-US Strate­gic and Eco­nomic Di­a­logue, co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and the US will ben­e­fit the world, while the op­po­site would bring dis­as­ter.

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