What China wants from U. S.

Bei­jing sees non­con­fronta­tion, co­op­er­a­tion and mu­tual re­spect as key

Los Angeles Times - - NEWS - By Kim Mur­phy kim. mur­phy@ latimes. com

BEI­JING — The world’s two big­gest economies have been eye­ing each other war­ily lately. Like two heavy­weight con­tenders angling for a match, the U. S. and China have been man­ag­ing a hugely pro­duc­tive eco­nomic re­la­tion­ship — two- way trade hit $ 590 bil­lion last year — all the while try­ing to f ig­ure out who runs the world.

The two na­tions have forged com­mon ground on big- ticket items such as cli­mate change and con­cerns over nu­clear pro­lif­er­a­tion in North Korea and Iran. But there’s been ten­sion over China’s moves to se­cure dis­puted ter­ri­tory in the South China Sea, and ac­cu­sa­tions that re­cent large- scale hack­ing of U. S. gov­ern­ment com­put­ers had a Chi­nese fin­ger­print.

Both na­tions are hur­ry­ing to lock in sep­a­rate Pa­cific trade agree­ments that stand to give them a pow­er­ful foothold in com­merce across Asia.

More than 400 Chi­nese of­fi­cials are in Washington this week for talks aimed at mak­ing progress in a re­la­tion­ship re­garded by al­most ev­ery­one as vi­tal. On the eve of the talks that be­gan Tues­day, Chi­nese For­eign Min­is­ter Wang Yi met with The Times in Bei­jing as part of a del­e­ga­tion hosted by the New York- based Asia So­ci­ety. The in­ter­view has been edited for length and clar­ity. You have em­pha­sized that China and the U. S. are “not com­peti­tors, much less ad­ver­saries,” but what about the al­le­ga­tions of com­puter hack­ing that the U. S. ad­min­is­tra­tion makes against China?

The po­si­tion of the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment is very clear: The Chi­nese gov­ern­ment op­poses any hack­ing ac­tiv­i­ties or the theft of com­mer­cial se­crets. This is the set pol­icy of the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, and we have very strict reg­u­la­tions.

As a mat­ter of fact, China has suf­fered from hack­ing. Ev­ery day, China is sub­ject to more than 300 large- scale hack­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, and ev­ery month, more than 10,000 Chi­nese web­sites are changed by hack­ers, and 80% of the gov­ern­ment web­sites are at­tacked. We have ev­i­dence to show that many of these hack­ing ac­tiv­i­ties come from the U. S. We can­not say who in­side the U. S., but these at­tacks come from U. S. soil. What is the big­gest mis­take the U. S. has made in its re­la­tion­ship with China?

I’m afraid you have too pes­simistic a per­cep­tion in rais­ing this ques­tion. In­stead of think­ing of the mis­takes and er­rors, why not think of the achieve­ments?

An im­por­tant agree­ment that we reached be­tween our two coun­tries in re­cent years is to work to­gether to build a new model of a ma­jor- coun­try re­la­tion­ship.

Some ar­gue that it will mean a world of G- 2 [ in which China and the U. S. jointly tackle the world’s prob­lems], but China does not sub­scribe to this view — in the first place, be­cause we do not be­lieve that world af­fairs can be de­cided by one or two coun­tries.

The sec­ond in­ac­cu­rate con­tention we hear is that China is seek­ing par­ity with the United States. This is not true. Be­cause the United States is the big­gest de­vel­oped coun­try, and China is the big­gest de­vel­op­ing coun­try. We still have a very big gap be­tween us.

Our goal is that by the cen­te­nary of the found­ing of the Peo­ple’s Re­pub­lic, that is, by 2049, China will be­come a medium- in­come de­vel­oped coun­try; and even by then, there will be a big gap be­tween China and the United States.

To have this new model of a ma­jor- coun­try re­la­tion­ship, we need to have three things. The first el­e­ment is non­con­flict, non­con­fronta­tion. Sec­ond, we need to have a win- win co­op­er­a­tion, and we need to re­ject the think­ing that win­ner takes it all. And third, we need to have mu­tual re­spect. China has re­cently an­nounced that it has halted some con­tro­ver­sial con­struc­tion work on one of sev­eral dis­puted is­lands in the South China Sea. Is this in re­sponse to in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism?

We have an­tic­i­pated com­ments from the media say­ing that China had to stop the con­struc­tion be­cause of pres­sure from the U. S. Well, this is to­tally not true. But we can­not sim­ply go on with con­struc­tion work for­ever, sim­ply be­cause we are afraid of such com­ments from the media. At some point we have to stop be­cause the con­struc­tion plan is com­pleted.

In­ci­den­tally, I want to tell you that con­struc­tion on the is­lands and reefs in the South China Sea did not start yesterday, and it was not started first by China. We need to be very clear about this. Viet­nam and the Philip­pines started largescale con­struc­tion work 20 or 30 years ago on is­lands they had il­le­gally oc­cu­pied. And China has all along ex­er­cised great re­straint.

I think there is one ba­sic fact that the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity has to learn, and that is that the is­lands and reefs of the Spratly Is­lands we are talk­ing about are Chi­nese ter­ri­tory. I think the U. S. knows bet­ter than any­one else about this. Be­cause at the end of the Sec­ond World War, China re­took the sovereignty over these Spratly Is­lands from the Ja­panese troops which oc­cu­pied these is­lands, and it was a joint op­er­a­tion be­tween China and the United States.

China has sovereignty over these is­lands and reefs, and our sovereignty has been se­ri­ously in­fringed upon. This is the ba­sic re­al­ity. But de­spite all this, China is still for a peace­ful set­tle­ment to the dis­putes, through di­a­logue and con­sul­ta­tion. You men­tioned that the world can’t be ruled by a G- 2, but do you worry that a bi­nary equa­tion is be­ing cre­ated — that you’re ei­ther with China, or you’re with the United States? It has been sug­gested that one of the rea­sons 20 coun­tries in the re­gion wanted to join the Trans- Pa­cific Part­ner­ship pro­posed by Pres­i­dent Obama was that they wanted to be with Amer­ica.

I don’t think we should run the risk of over­sim­pli­fy­ing this by in­ter­pret­ing the sit­u­a­tion like this. As I men­tioned ear­lier, China and the United States are hav­ing co­op­er­a­tion at var­i­ous lev­els and in var­i­ous fields. So if China and the United States are co­op­er­at­ing, then there is no ques­tion of ask­ing those re­gional coun­tries to take sides with one or the other.

As for TPP, I see it as an eco­nomic and trade treaty. We don’t want to over-politi­cize it.... Rather, we hope that the TPP will not af­fect the free- trade regime un­der the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion mech­a­nism. Now some Amer­i­can friends may think that now that there is a TPP, the U. S. can do with­out [ the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion]. So I think more think­ing is needed on whether this kind of think­ing is good for the U. S. or not.

At­tila Kisbenedek AFP/ Getty I mages

FOR­EIGN MIN­IS­TER Wang Yi, who said China and the U. S. are “not com­peti­tors, much less ad­ver­saries,” also spoke about hack­ing, sovereignty and trade.

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