Building on Deng's US policy

By Yu Sui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China Daily, August 27, 2014
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Deng Xiaoping (1st L) and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter (2nd L) wave to people during Deng's visit to the U.S. in 1979. [file photo]

Deng Xiaoping (1st L) and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter (2nd L) wave to people during Deng's visit to the U.S. in 1979. [file photo]

August 22 marks the 110th anniversary of the birth of Deng Xiaoping. While Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai are the undisputable founders of China-US relations in the modern era, Deng was an energetic pioneer and his ideas and propositions on relations with the United States are still being carried forward by China's leaders today.

But as China continues to develop and the global landscape changes, the US policy that Deng helped so much to put in place is evolving.

Deng believed that one should view China-US relations by bearing in mind the characteristics of our times. He pointed out that there are only two major issues in the world, that is to say two global issues with strategic importance. One is peace, the other development. But he recognized that maintaining peace and promoting development would be impossible without the US, the world's biggest developed country, and an increasing role being played by China, the world's biggest developing country. This was the big picture behind the argument that China-US relations ought to become better and not worse. Real-life events, such as rolling back the financial crisis, preventing nuclear proliferation and waging war on terrorism have time and again proved that China and the US are never short of converging interests on which to cooperate.

In the face of the post-Cold War complexities and volatilities around the world, Deng called for the building of a new international political and economic order based on the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence. Such principles as mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful coexistence have always been, and will continue to be, the foundations for China's foreign policy. They should also be the foundations for the new model of major-country relations that China and the US have pledged to forge.

Deng believed that the prerequisite for the normalization of China-US relations was mutual respect. In his talks with former US president Richard Nixon in 1989, he said that countries should go about their relations with others by proceeding from their own strategic interests and taking care of them with a long-term perspective. But they should also treat the interests of other countries with respect.

Indeed, he made the principle of mutual respect the keystone for China's US policy, namely, to enhance trust, reduce frictions, develop cooperation and refrain from confrontation. When President Xi Jinping proposed the new model for a major-country relationship between the US and China he stressed the importance of mutual respect and said it should embody no-conflict, no-confrontation and win-win cooperation.

Deng was totally convinced that China and the US could exist harmoniously side by side. In his talks with the US presidential special envoy in December 1989, he said that although the two countries had gone through some troubling moments and still had some problems and differences, relations were bound to get better. He said that China posed no threat to the US and the US must not take China as an adversary that threatened it. Such a conviction has been echoed time and again and in greater detail by President Xi in his meetings with President Obama.

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