Foreign Policy

On balance, common interests outweigh differences, and President Xi Jinping’s visit to the US will give both sides a fresh opportunity to re-commit to cooperation, accommodate each other’s core interests, and manage differences to avoid disrupting bilateral relations.


For both sides, statesmanship and long-term political commitment is essential at critical moments, as was repeatedly evidenced in the Sino-US relations since the ice-breaking contact in early 1970s. Washington and Beijing must look beyond semantics and embrace a new type of relationship that meets both sides’ goals of peace and progress.

If China can be nudged to align various policies to be more in line with U.S. interests in a way that allows China, too, to save face and claim its required victories at home, this summit will have been worthwhile, and better than having not met at all.

There is no lack of communication between Washington and Beijing on the South China Sea issue, which will likely be on the agenda of the Xi-Obama meeting in September. If China’s “dual-track” approach to the issue can be wed to the new model of major-country relationship between China and the United States, they can reach some accommodation and reduce the chance of a showdown.

BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 12: U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) after a joint press conference at the Great Hall of People on November 12, 2014 in Beijing, China. U.S. President Barack Obama pays a state visit to China after attending the 22nd Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders' Meeting.

At a time when tensions between the two countries seem to be growing, Xi and Obama will likely use this meeting to reassure each other of their mutual commitment to stable, constructive bilateral engagement and explore avenues to manage disagreements such as the South China Sea and cybersecurity.

Tom Watkins proposes that while Xi Jinping is in the United States, he should learn more about Detroit’s reinvention and recovery from bankruptcy to cast new light on China’s current economic woes.

US President Barack Obama (R) and Chinese President Xi Jinping take a walk at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California, on June 8, 2013.

The state visit in Washington is a new chance for both sides to see the other differently, focusing on common achievements and respecting differences. To achieve that, the two presidents must reaffirm principles guiding the Sino-U.S. relationship and re-clarify their strategic intentions.

Seventy years ago, China and the U.S. fought side by side in World War II, and now have to work much more closely to provide public good for the world. Increasing cooperation on combating climate change was the most anticipated outcome of Xi Jinping’s state visit. Collaboration on clean technology, energy-sector reform, and energy security could contribute to the stability of the world’s economy and efforts in tackling climate change.


Political campaigns generally are not well-suited for the thoughtful discussion of complex, nuanced international issues. Lately, China has been a target of GOP pre-election attacks, and it should be known that there is a difference between coming across as tough, and bungling diplomacy all together.


Washington and Beijing consistently send mixed messages about how they see the world, each other and, indeed, themselves.

Although US willingness to engage China in the international system seems to be diminishing, the Chinese president’s upcoming state visit is an opportunity to get a new type of major-country relationship back on track. This will accumulate more positive energy if both countries seek functional cooperation in deferent spheres by practical and systematic means.

One of the major challenges for China’s leadership lies in enacting the rule of law by borrowing from Western principles while preserving China’s self-identity embodied in part in the Confucian ideology of the rule of virtue.

However unsavory the Victory Parade seems, the Chinese government is right to feel slighted by Prime Minister Abe of Japan. Using Mitsubishi Materials as an example, more Japanese companies should make conciliatory gestures for Japanese wartime conduct in exchange for continue economic benefits before the onset of a potential economic slowdown.

The Seventieth Anniversary of the victory of the Allies over Japan in the Second World War is now upon us. This War created tens of millions of victims, perhaps even as many as a couple of hundreds of millions, in Asia. I was one of the victims of the War, but a relatively lucky one. My parents lived in Hong Kong before the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbour.


Many China watchers believe that the ties between Beijing and Washington are at their lowest level since Tian’anment. President Xi can nevertheless reassure the American political establishment that he is leading China in the right direction, and not trying to turn it into another version of the former Soviet Union.

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