Business elite will lead Washington onto right path with Beijing

Wang Wen

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Business elite will lead Washington onto right path with Beijing


By Wang Wen    Source: Global Times    Published: 2015-9-22   


Prior to Chinese President Xi Jinping`s US tour, I visited over 10 US think tanks. They, enveloped by the influence of interest groups, were talking of trivial matters - for instance, China`s cyber theft, the South China Sea issue and the deteriorating Chinese business environment. They argued that those concrete problems should be put on the agenda of Xi`s trip.

These trivial issues can be gradually resolved through the broadened channels between the two sides. Why do these nonessentials have to be on the agenda of Xi`s visit? The two leaders are supposed to discuss national strategies.

A former US high-ranking official told me that these unscrupulous voices are just a part of the US public opinions. They, however, have been exaggerated to kidnap Washington`s high politics and are even pressuring and impacting the US policy toward China.

It`s noticeable that in New York, traders doing businesses with China have a completely different view on the US-China relationship. They are pondering why the US refused to join the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and why China was prevented from joining the Tran-Pacific Partnership. They even criticized the US investment environment as less open than that of China.

The contrast has corroborated that the US has different parts. While "Washington" strives to be politically right, "New York" cares more about business interests. Meanwhile, the public opinion is always intertwined with negative issues concerning China. The US in reality, however, is not that hostile against China.

Therefore, it is not accurate to say that the bilateral political relationship is witnessing a downturn. Instead, a minority of the US political elite, motivated by their own interests, are molding a silhouette of China, and pretending to struggle against it. The current China-US relationship, instead of witnessing a political crisis, is just a reflection of the US public opinion.

Going a bit further, the US decision-making level lacks responsible political elite who dare to tactfully deal with the public opinion. Richard Nixon, despite his anti-Communist stance, became the first US president to visit China.

In spite of the Cold War, Nixon`s government managed to steer clear of domestic public opinion and actively build a sound foundation for top meetings between Washington and Beijing. Today`s US political elite lack sufficient strategic courage to create a harmonious atmosphere for the two largest economies in the world to cooperate.

Beijing, on the other hand, may need to be more patient and perseverant to help enhance the responsibility of Washington`s political elite. These elite should be aware that China is now a major power, which will not be frightened away by their criticism. Building a sound China-US relationship will benefit both Beijing and Washington. US politicians should be courageous in guiding domestic public opinion to be friendly to China.

In addition, China ought to work together with New York`s businesspeople in a united front to make Washington`s political elite recognize some basic facts.

For instance, Washington had lobbied other Western countries not to join the AIIB earlier this year. This is a pretty malicious trick which harms both, others and Washington itself. Besides, as an ally in WWII, it was petty for the US not to be present, save for the ambassador to China, at the parade in Beijing to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of the war. Washington needs to realize that showing goodwill to Beijing will not only reflect its magnanimity as a superpower, but also is the best approach to enhance and safeguard the nation`s vital interests.

Washington`s politicians need to regard China`s contribution to the US objectively. Instead of threat, China will bring the US benefits and cooperation. It is Chinese investment that has revived a bankrupt Detroit. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China`s investment to the US is expected to reach $200 billion in the next five years, creating 4 million jobs in the US.

Compared with the significance of a stable China-US relationship to global benefits, the current trivial issues being hotly discussed in the US public opinion can be ignored. Some US politicians lack the sense of historical responsibility. Yet, luckily, the business elite in New York will have more say on the nation`s future, as they have played a leading role in the mutually beneficial China-US cooperation in the past 30 years.

The author is executive director of Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China.