For cooperation and against confrontation

By Zhao Jinglun
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, July 11, 2014
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 [By Zhai Haijun/]

 [By Zhai Haijun/]

The China-U.S. relationship is both important and complex. The root of the complexity lies in the character of the two countries:

"The Unites States has the world's biggest economy and strongest military, but China's economy is set to surpass the United States in the coming decades and its armed forces are rapidly gaining strength," said Bradley Klapper of the Associated Press.

It was the former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton who first wondered: "What happens when the established power meets the rising power?"

It was precisely to avoid what is known as the "Thucydides Trap" that Presidents Xi and Obama agreed in California last year to establish a "new type of great power relationship."

The Sixth Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) between China and the United States took place in Beijing at a time when friction seemed to be on the rise, as Washington has come out strongly in support of Japan and the Philippines in their territorial disputes with China. More troublesome is Washington's strong support of Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, who forced through the Japanese Diet a resolution to reinterpret Japan's pacifist Constitution which in effect hollows out Article Nine to give Japan the right to Collective Self-Defense. That puts Japan on the road to aggression and war again.

That is why people question the sincerity of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's statement that the U.S. has no plan to contain China and President Obama's statement that Washington wants to see a stable, peaceful and prosperous China.

Washington is so worried that a U.S. leading China expert Kenneth Lieberthal urged Washington and Beijing to seize the opportunity of the dialogue to avert the downward spiral of their relations.

That is why President Xi, in his speech opening the dialogue, suggested that the two countries should promote mutual trust, mutual respect, keep the big picture in sight and work together to build a new type of great power relationship. To do this, both sides need to avoid being distracted by a single incident or an utterance. State Councilor Yang Jiechi, Xi's personal representative at the dialogue, added that both sides need to adopt a correct perception of each other's strategic intent and never allow any strategic misjudgment to arise.

Xi pointed out that common interests of the two countries far outweigh their differences, and that cooperation benefits both countries and the world and confrontation would be disastrous.

Economic and trade relations serve as the ballast stabilizing relations. Bilateral trade amounted to US$520 billion last year and bilateral investment amounted to US$100 billion.

The aggregate economies make up one-third of the world total; their populations constitute a quarter of mankind; and aggregate trade volume one-fifth of the world total.

As Xi urged in particular that the two sides accelerate negotiations on the Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT), China and the United States are likely to conclude the first phase of the BIT and start substantive negotiations on the negative list.

The sixth S&ED touched on many topics. The main theme was cooperation.

This was also the fifth people-to-people exchange dialogue. President Xi suggested that both sides should encourage friendly exchanges between peoples, and broaden social communication channels to consolidate public opinion in favor of bilateral friendship.

I lived in the United States for more than thirty years, and I am deeply impressed by the affinity between our two peoples. We both attach great importance to family and education, particularly of the young. We are both hard working and innovative. And we both have a good sense of humor.

There is every reason we should cooperate and avoid confrontation.

The author is a columnist with For more information please visit:

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