By Zhao Minghao Source: China.org.cn Published: 2015-10-30
Beijing and Washington need to keep the focus on "new model" instead of "major country/great power." This "new model" of relationship between China and the United States is crucial to tackling 21st-century challenges such as cyber security and climate change. When it comes to cyber or climate issues, frankly speaking, there is a lack of knowledge, ability and experience on both sides. Many officials are still unfamiliar with a world connected through the Internet. They need to be more patient in order to understand the issues at hand and find real solutions instead of getting confrontational whenever they disagree. Secondly, addressing these challenges requires input from non-state actors. There needs to be a more effective and broad-based policy-making network that involves cyber and climate experts. Thirdly, officials should be better at explaining the complexity of those issues to the public, rather than feeding them with over-simplified answers.
While in the United States, President Xi Jinping met with business leaders from the IT sector, including Microsoft, Apple and Facebook, and made an unequivocal commitment that the Chinese government does not support any form of commercial cyber espionage. China and the United States agreed to establish a working mechanism at a higher level on cyber security disputes and explore international rule-making for the cyberspace. Such progress gives people hope that the "new model" is getting more substance. Just several years back, Beijing and Washington were still in a bitter argument over climate change. Today, however, China-U.S. cooperation on climate change has become a highlight in bilateral cooperation and led global efforts on that subject. There is a possibility that cyber security could become the next success story of China-U.S. cooperation.
To ignore the concept of "new model of major-country relationship" would be unwise and irresponsible. "Non-confrontation" is not just in Beijing`s interest. The "new model" is essential to achieving competitive coexistence between China and the United States. The two sides need to work together to avoid "the Thucydides Trap," but the complexities of China-U.S. relations apparently go much beyond this simple phrase. By now, Washington ought to have seen Beijing`s commitment from its subtle but steady efforts to work through differences. During President Xi`s visit, the two sides reached new consensus on reform of the international economic governance mechanisms and started building a tangible global development partnership. This "new model" has begun to cover areas of cooperation from peace-keeping, counterterrorism and public health to wildlife protection.
The bottom line is, if the decision-makers of China and the United States are able to nurture a new strategic mindset that are well adapted to 21st-century global affairs and be more dedicated to this "new model," there will be a real possibility that Beijing and Washington can avoid the "old game" of major-country conflict.
Zhao Minghao is a visiting fellow of the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.