US pol­icy on China needs up­date: ex­perts

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHEN WEIHUA in Wash­ing­ton chen­wei­hua@chi­nadai­lyusa.com

For James Stein­berg, the US deputy sec­re­tary of state from 2009 to 2011, the big­gest sur­prise of the on­go­ing US pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is the lack of de­bate of US pol­icy to­wards China.

He be­lieves that a core con­sen­sus of the US pol­icy is un­der in­creas­ing at­tack.

He was re­fer­ring to the con­sen­sus that US and China have a shared in­ter­est and shared stake in the prosperity of China. Both coun­tries will stand to lose from a ri­valry. And that the dif­fer­ences that do ex­ist in their po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic sys­tems, while se­ri­ous, can be man­aged con­struc­tively.

In a talk on Mon­day af­ter­noon, Stein­berg de­scribed the con­sen­sus as not only ben­e­fit­ing the peo­ple of China and the US, but the rest of the re­gion, in­clud­ing US al­lies.

While some in the US ar­gue that the deep eco­nomic in­ter­de­pen­dence be­tween the two na­tions and their many shared in­ter­ests will lead to a more col­lab­o­ra­tive re­la­tion­ship in the com­ing decades, some still be­lieve a con­flict be­tween a ris­ing power and es­tab­lished power is in­evitable.

In the 2014 book Strate­gic Re as­sur­ance and Re­solve: US-China Re­la­tions in the Twenty-First-Cen­tury, Stein­berg and coau­thor, Michael O’Han­lon, a se­nior fel­low at the Brook­ings In­sti­tu­tion, con­tend that this pes­simistic sce­nario can be con­fi­dently avoided only if China and the US adopt de­lib­er­ate poli­cies de­signed to ad­dress the se­cu­rity dilemma that be­sets the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a ris­ing and an es­tab­lished power.

They pro­pose a set of pol­icy pro­pos­als to achieve a sus­tain­able, rel­a­tively co­op­er­a­tive re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two na­tions, based on the con­cept of pro­vid­ing mu­tual strate­gic re­as­sur­ance in such key ar­eas as nu­clear weapons and mis­sile de­fense, space and cy­ber op­er­a­tions, and mil­i­tary bas­ing and de­ploy­ments, while also demon­strat­ing strate­gic re­solve to pro­tect vi­tal na­tional in­ter­ests.

While Stein­berg did not com­ment on how US pol­icy to­wards China could be im­proved, for­mer US Am­bas­sador to China Sta­ple­ton Roy said the US needs to ad­just its as­sump­tions re­gard­ing the re­gion.

In Roy’s views, none of the changes in East Asia have been in­te­grated into the US think­ing. He warned that there is enor­mous dan­ger in bas­ing US poli­cies on as­sump­tions that are out­dated.

The US pivot to Asia strat­egy as­sumes a sta­ble Europe and a US re­treat from the Mid­dle East, but that has not been the case, ac­cord­ing to Roy.

“When I look at the Mid­dle East and Europe, I don’t see good out­comes. But East Asia has the po­ten­tial to do well if key re­la­tions and fric­tion points are man­aged prop­erly.

Eco­nom­i­cally, East Asia still out­per­forms the rest of the world,” Roy said.

“Mis­steps in East Asia could have very se­ri­ous con­se­quences,” he said, re­fer­ring to hot spot is­sues such as North Korea and South China Sea.

Mis­steps in East Asia could have very se­ri­ous con­se­quences.” Sta­ple­ton Roy, for­mer US am­bas­sador to China

Roy said East Asia needs sus­tained and well-in­formed pol­icy at­ten­tion from what­ever US ad­min­is­tra­tion emerges from Novem­ber’s elec­tion. “But more than at­ten­tion is re­quired for a suc­cess­ful pol­icy ap­proach in East Asia,” he said.

Roy be­lieves it’s too hard to pre­dict the US for­eign pol­icy in the next ad­min­is­tra­tion now be­cause of the stark dif­fer­ences of the two can­di­dates. While rea­son­able as­sump­tion about Hil­lary Clin­ton’s pol­icy could be made, an as­sump­tion about Don­ald Trump’s pol­icy is hard, ac­cord­ing to Roy.

“So it’s not the best time to make pre­dic­tions for the new ad­min­is­tra­tion,” he said.

Roy, once a US diplo­mat in the Soviet Union dur­ing the Cold War, crit­i­cized the NATO ex­pan­sion along the Rus­sian bor­der for un­nec­es­sar­ily rais­ing ten­sions. He also de­scribed China’s po­si­tion on the South China Sea as more rea­son­able than some of the neigh­bors, say­ing that China is the only coun­try in­volved in the maritime ter­ri­tory that ac­tu­ally agreed to ne­go­ti­ate the dis­putes.

“The US has to be care­ful, we are an out­side party, and ne­go­ti­a­tions on Code of Con­duct are be­tween ASEAN coun­tries and China. The US is not a party to these ne­go­ti­a­tions, and we shouldn’t try to force our way in,” said Roy, also for­mer US am­bas­sador to Sin­ga­pore.

Teng Jian­qun, a re­search fel­low on US stud­ies at the

It’s not the best time to make pre­dic­tions for the new ad­min­is­tra­tion.” J. Sta­ple­ton Roy, Amer­i­can diplo­mat

China In­sti­tute of In­ter­na­tional Stud­ies, said on Mon­day that the key is­sue be­tween China and the US is still a lack of trust.

“The key is­sue is that China and the US should have a fresh an­gle look­ing at the other,” he said.

Ami­tai Etzioni, a pro­fes­sor of in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions at the Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity who mod­er­ated the talk by Stein­berg, ar­gued in his tes­ti­mony be­fore the US Congress on Sept 22 that the US and China have many shared and com­ple­men­tary in­ter­ests and very few real rea­sons for con­flict.

Etzioni told law­mak­ers that when­ever a new power arises and the es­tab­lished su­per power does not make some ac­com­mo­da­tions with the ris­ing power, war will en­sue. He pro­posed a grand bar­gain be­tween China and the US, in­clud­ing ev­ery­thing from nu­clear non­pro­lif­er­a­tion and cy­ber­se­cu­rity to South China Sea and Tai­wan.

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