US should see big pic­ture

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - ED­I­TO­RIAL

IT IS MORE THAN OB­VI­OUS THAT NEI­THER Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, nor his vis­i­tor, US Vice-Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, could eas­ily sell to the other their re­spec­tive coun­try’s ideas about the well-hyped East China Sea Air De­fense Iden­ti­fi­ca­tion Zone de­spite their per­sonal rap­port.

That Xi and Bi­den man­aged to keep their dif­fer­ences over the ADIZ out of the spot­light on Wed­nes­day — there was no men­tion of it when the two spoke to re­porters — was a sign that Bei­jing and Wash­ing­ton un­der­stand the sig­nif­i­cance of main­tain­ing what Bi­den called “high-level en­gage­ment”, and are in­deed ca­pa­ble of man­ag­ing their oc­ca­sion­ally volatile ties.

As Bi­den told his Chi­nese coun­ter­part Vice-Pres­i­dent Li Yuan­chao, re­la­tions con­tinue to ma­ture.

Di­ver­gent as they are, China and the United States share a prac­ti­cal need for friendly, or at least non-threat­en­ing, re­la­tions. Not just be­cause con­fronta­tion would be too costly. But be­cause the two economies have be­come in­ter­wo­ven so tightly that even the av­er­age man on the street can tell re­newed es­trange­ment would be bad news for both.

With a per­sonal brief­ing by Xi about the Chi­nese ori­en­ta­tions af­ter the Third Plenum of the CPC’s 18th Cen­tral Com­mit­tee, Bi­den will have an even clearer idea of the po­ten­tial our trans­form­ing econ­omy prom­ises for the US’ eco­nomic re­cov­ery af­ter talk­ing with Pre­mier Li Ke­qiang on Thurs­day.

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron has found a land of op­por­tu­ni­ties here dur­ing his on­go­ing visit. And, bor­row­ing a line from Bi­den, the pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less if the US and China can get their re­la­tion­ship right.

But to make that hap­pen, the two coun­tries must ad­dress their con­spic­u­ous “trust deficit”. The US’ re­ac­tion to China’s ADIZ is only the lat­est re­minder of how dif­fi­cult it is for the two na­tions to over­come their dis­trust.

Bi­den hit the right note on Wed­nes­day in high­light­ing the need for “a pos­i­tive no­tion of each other’s mo­tives”. Can­did and con­struc­tive di­a­logue will make ev­ery­thing eas­ier and truly elim­i­nate long-stand­ing sus­pi­cions.

That will be the only way for Wash­ing­ton to con­vince Bei­jing of the na­ture of its pivot to the Asia-Pa­cific, and to nur­ture the con­sen­sus reached be­tween Xi and US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama in June on build­ing a new mode of ma­jor­coun­try re­la­tion­ship.

As long as they can keep their eyes on the big pic­ture and the long term, they will find this re­la­tion­ship much eas­ier to man­age than it has been.

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