Maturing China-US ties to breed breakthroughs

By Shen Dingli
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, July 6, 2015
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The 7th China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue and the 6th China-US High-level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange just concluded in Washington D.C.. It was the first time the two meetings were convened simultaneously. By sending high-ranking officials to the meetings, both parties have shown continuing interests in the communication mechanisms.

There had been multiple tensions in China-US relations prior to the dialogues. With the US fixating on the South China Sea and information security, China was concerned about economic growth and international rights. The two countries had conspicuously divergent views in the four fields. The South China Sea issue is not new. But the US is very sensitive to China's extremely efficient reclamation projects there. The Pentagon has explicitly asked China to stop immediately. The US has been especially worried about information security. It not only suspected government-supported Chinese hackers had profited from cyber attacks against the US, but also worried about alleged Chinese economic espionage. It complained that the Chinese government had been compromising American IT companies' competitive advantages with claims of security concerns.

The Chinese side is very dissatisfied with US attempts to squeeze China's space for development. Militarily, the US has been enhancing alliances and partnerships with China's neighbors, and deploying more advanced conventional weapons to the region, displaying a very clear intention to contain China. In economy and trade, it has been accelerating TPP negotiations, trying to consolidate competitiveness of American exports and undermine China's development through upgrading international trade standards. It is not only unwilling to take part in the China-advocated, interconnectivity-oriented Silk Road initiatives and the corresponding AIIB, but has tried hard to sabotage them via behind-the-scenes maneuvers. It is also unwilling to see the renminbi's adoption as the world's new reserves currency.

The purpose of dialogue is communication. The high-level China-US dialogues are meant to manage their disagreements and promote cooperation. None of the above four problems was solved in this round of dialogues. But mutual antagonism has more or less eased, and certain degree of agreement appeared possible on some regional concerns. Before the dialogues, China announced that its reclamation projects would soon come to an end, explaining that it was not the result of US pressures. As long as China gives timely explanations of its intentions, it will always be conducive to a constructive atmosphere for dialogue. That it chose to make that announcement prior to the dialogues showed the mechanism works.

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