'We have to get it right'

By Zhao Jinglun
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, November 9, 2014
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The “it” in the title refers to the U.S.-China relationship.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, in a speech delivered at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies on November 4, quoted Chinese Ambassador to Washington Cui Tiankai, who characterized the China-U.S. relationship as “the most important as well as the most sensitive, the most comprehensive as well as the most complex, and the most promising as well as the most challenging.” To Cui’s dialectics, Kerry added that the relationship was “the most consequential in the world today, period, and it will do much to determine the shape of the 21st century,” so he stated emphatically: “We have to get it right.”

Well said. No other bilateral relationship in history had so many dimensions and reached such importance. Get it right, and both countries as well as the world will benefit. Get it wrong, then both countries and the world would suffer.

How then can the two sides get it right?

China and the United States are cooperating in many fields, and the potential for expanding cooperation to new fields is seemingly unlimited.

The two major powers are the largest economies in the world. Their bilateral trade in goods and services amounts to nearly US$600 billion annually, and their mutual investments are close to US$100 billion. The close economic and trade relations serve as the linchpin of their bilateral relations.

There are, however, trade conflicts. The United States needs to overcome its protective tendencies and stop slapping unreasonably heavy duties on certain Chinese goods. To help balance trade, the United States should relax its restrictions on exports of high-tech products to China.

Cooperation in ecology is high on the agenda. Kerry and China’s State Councilor Yang Jiechi recently agreed to launch the U.S.-China Climate Change Working Group.

Promising areas of cooperation could include anti-corruption, fighting nuclear proliferation, terrorism, Ebola and other diseases, and combating all kinds of illegal trafficking.

China and the United States are two very different countries with different histories, cultural traditions, value schemata and institutions. It is natural that they should hold different views.

In terms of security, there are some rather serious differences that need be carefully managed. Each side needs to take a long-term view and a strategic vision. Both sides need to enhance mutual strategic trust.

In Kerry’s words, the relationship is built on two pillars: constructively managing our differences and just as constructively coordinating our efforts on the wide range of issues where our interests are aligned.

Presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama already got off to a good start at their Annenberg Farm dialogue. They agreed to establish a new type of major power relationship to avoid the “Thucydides trap.”

When President Obama comes to Beijing for the informal APEC summit and a state visit, the two leaders are expected to make the new major power relationship even more solid and substantial.

The writer is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit: http://www.china.org.cn/opinion/zhaojinglun.htm

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China.org.cn.


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