As large nations, both China and the U.S. face significant problems and threats such as terrorism, climate change, and meeting energy and food demands. These common challenges give hope for greater cooperation between the two countries. Fortunately, there are no territorial disputes and little historic antipathy between China and the U.S., and the people of each nation are generally friendly and hopeful toward each other. The China-US relationship is the most mature among China's bilateral relationships with large countries, so it seems safe to be cautiously optimistic regarding future relations.
In recent years China has made significant progress economically. In light of this, some critics have enthusiastically labeled China a threat. China and the U.S. do have conflicting interests in the fields of politics, economy, military, and security that cause friction at times. The most haunting issues are the RMB exchange rate, intellectual property rights, regional military maneuvers, and China's perceived US interference in its domestic affairs and territorial integrity.
State Secretary Clinton's talk of the US "returning to Asia" is a misnomer because the U.S. never left Asia, which has always been its major concern. True, US diplomacy shifted focus to the Middle East, the frontier of anti-terrorism, during the presidency of George W. Bush when Asia-US relations were generally steady. After terrorism was deemed under control, the competition among large countries, especially among the U.S. and large Asian countries, became the primary thrust of US international relations. As a result, the focus of the media and the US government has shifted to Asia again.
This increasing US concern over Asia is unfavorable for China's diplomatic environment as the U.S. interferes in the territorial disputes between China and its neighboring countries, holds frequent military drills, applies diplomatic pressure on Asia at international occasions, and pressures China on trade in concert with China's neighboring countries. Subsequently, these actions hinder the peaceful development of China.
However, China and the U.S. have their common interests, such as the shared goal of maintaining peace and stability in Asia. The U.S. needs China as a partner to solve problems in Asia and other regions, so it will not harm China's interests excessively. With China becoming stronger, it is no longer as susceptible to interference. Therefore, China doesn't have to worry too much about any US actions.