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Zhao Minghao: Mar-a-Lago summit a new start for Sino-US ties


By Zhao Minghao    Source: Global Times    Published: 2017-4-6


Thursday and Friday will witness the first meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Trump tweeted on March 30 that the meeting with Xi "will be very difficult." In fact, China-US relations have always been "difficult" in the past 40 years. However, both Xi and Trump are willing to work through difficulties, no matter in terms of domestic reforms or foreign policies.

Xi has been pushing forward reforms and opening-up since taking office. He hopes that the Chinese economy can transit into a consumption- and innovation-driven market. If there was no "created in China," there won`t be sustainable development in the country. The government also vowed to eradicate poverty by 2020, which means pulling at least 10 million people out of poverty on average every year.

Xi also adopted strict approach to fight against corruption to boost energy and efficiency within the Communist Party of China, with its 89 million members. The government has carried out a series of measures to promote judicial reform such as publishing the judgments of all trials on its website. These are intended improve governance nationwide.

Trump also attempted to push forward reforms in the US, however, most are unwelcomed. In order to increase employment rate, especially in the Midwest, he has repeatedly pressured auto-makers and other manufacturers to "buy American and hire American." One recent poll showed that nearly 86 percent of international relations experts see US involvement in the global economy as positive, while many Americans are skeptical about the advantages of economic globalization. Trump also planned to renegotiate free trade agreements including the North American Free Trade Agreement. He wants to change Washington politics, believing that bureaucracy is unhelpful to the economy. On March 27, President Trump unveiled a new White House agency called the Office of American Innovation, headed by his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, which will reshape government responsibilities by looking for ideas from the business community. However, his other bold ideas, including the immigration ban, have aroused intense opposition from political establishments and the public. Recently, Trump`s healthcare reform, which aimed at replacing the Obamacare, also suffered bitter setback.

Foreign policy begins at home. China and the US are pushing forward reforms to benefit the people. The relationship between the two countries is supposed to reduce uncertainties. The purpose of the Xi-Trump meeting is to chart the course for the development of China-US relations in the next 50 years, as Rex Tillerson, US Secretary of State, said.

As for China, the biggest challenge from the Trump government is its zero-sum mindset. Trump`s threat to US companies for moving jobs overseas and the potential 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports won`t benefit the US people. Purchasing power of the US middle class will be further eroded, leading to deeper rift in the American society.

History has proved that economic downturn and weak trade relations would lead to wars if mishandled.

A new type of major-power relationship has emerged between China and the US during the past decade. China has the confidence to build its relationship with the US on the principle of no conflicts and confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. China is willing to reduce trade imbalance between the two countries by importing more hi-tech products from the US, it is also hoping that the US can treat investments from China in a more proper way, for that will help create millions of jobs in the US. China also hopes that the two countries can reinforce coordination on hotspot issues including North Korea nuclear issue.

As President Xi said, "the development of China-US relations faces important opportunities at the moment. We both believe China and the US can absolutely be very good partners." The Mar-a-Lago meeting shall be a "new starting point" for China-US relations.

The author is a visiting fellow at the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.

Key Words: China   US   Mar-a-Lago   Zhao Minghao  

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