Relations with Washington have moved beyond Cold War shadow

Wang Wen

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Relations with Washington have moved beyond Cold War shadow


By Wang Wen    Source: Global Times    Publised: 2015-9-14


Right before Chinese President Xi Jinping`s upcoming state visit to the US, some negative voices have emerged in the US public opinion, including complaint against the business environment in China, criticism over the draft of China`s new NGO legislation, anxiety toward China`s economic slowdown, and the hype over the situation of the South China Sea. Some are worried about the future of the Sino-US relationship. But in my mind, these are precisely signs that reflect the stability and progress in the bilateral ties.

Compared with the past two decades, the current focuses of the US public opinion are more pragmatic and specific. Heretofore, China`s political system and human rights were always raised by the US before high-level visits or dialogues, and Washington used to play up the threat of the Chinese military and speculate over the collapse of Chinese systems.

The change indicates that the higher level contradictions between the two countries have already been solved in the 35 years since the establishment of Sino-US diplomatic relations. Beijing has repeatedly stressed that it will not challenge the US-dominated global order. China is willing to be a supporter, a participant, and a reformer of the current world order, and is not against the presence of US interests in the East Asia.

In the meantime, Washington has also stated many times that the US welcomes the rise of China, and is not trying to subvert the rule of the Communist Party of China. These statements are not casual remarks, but were made out of careful considerations of the global circumstances and the strategic ties between the two countries.

There are indeed some concerns that conflict and even war between the two countries cannot be completely ruled out. However, policymakers from both sides have fully realized the risks and disasters this would bring. Obviously, the Sino-US relationship has already been stepping out of the shadows of the Cold War, and the major positive progress cannot be overthrown by some specific divergences.

There are nearly a hundred of dialogue mechanisms at every level between the two nations, which are trying to avoid any possibility of the reemergence of the Cold War. The theory of zero-sum game has become increasingly invalid in front of the big picture of the bilateral ties.

On the contrary, the Sino-US economic and trade cooperation of over $500 billion, and more than six million people-to-people exchanges are making the neoliberal institutional theories, which focus on the logic of interdependence, more persuasive.

Two years ago, leaders from both sides jointly said they would to put into practice the principles of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation, and to develop an epoch-making new type of major power relationship.

For now, it can be argued that the first two principles have been well guaranteed. As for how to respect each other, and achieve win-win cooperation, more time are needed for further communication.

From this perspective, that some US opinions have taken this opportunity to impose pressure on China to solve some concrete issues can be seen as a miscalculation about the strategic interactions between major powers.

Quite a number of the US elite have confided privately that the US President Barack Obama has stronger hope than China for Xi`s upcoming visit to be successful, because the visit is closely related to his diplomatic legacy. More importantly, on many global issues, such as Iran, Internet security, climate change, and global governance, the US is relying heavily on China, which outweighs the divergences.

Therefore, the Chinese should firmly believe the significant development in our diplomacy toward the US in the past 30 years, believe in stability in the big picture of Sino-US ties, and believe the relationship will escape from the Thucydides Trap.

This is the proper mentality we should have in China`s major power diplomacy.

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