The “Pivot to Asia” policy has been primarily driven by cold war and military conceptions of containing China’s rise. President Obama’s recent State of the Union speech kept with a distinctly American theme of soft-imperialism with mention of “writing the rules” to free trade agreements in Asia, instead of acknowledging China’s own sovereignty.
It is my hope that the Obama administration will leave a satisfactory legacy in promoting US-China relations by enhancing mutual strategic trust and pragmatic cooperation between the two nations.
The China-CELAC Forum in January adopted institutional cooperation between Beijing and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). China’s foreign cooperation and economic development trend has allowed China to introduce new standards for international diplomacy.
Obama’s announcement to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba is not an absolute opening of trade, which is still privileged to U.S. agro-export, telecommunication, and financial industries. China on the other hand is Cuba’s second largest importer, with investments in petroleum, tourism, nickel, and infrastructure – all of which could prove beneficial once American firms and consumers are allowed to enter the Cuban economy.
The U.S. has long sought China’s support in containing North Korea, but China accuses the U.S. for contributing to the sense of insecurity through its military exercises in the region. Doug Bandow argues that Washington and its allies should consider an alternative approach and together develop a comprehensive proposal for a grand bargain.
Promoting peace and stability in Africa, and strengthening security cooperation with Africa has been an important pillar of China-Africa cooperation in recent years.
In 2015, ASEAN will continue to pursue its priority objective of creating an ASEAN community. As China sees it, the creation of a China-ASEAN community with a shared destiny now stands at a new historical starting point. China will advance and be proactive in its diplomacy. What will ASEAN choose?
In 2013, the Sino-US relations ended with concern over strategic mistrust. In 2014, bilateral relations were characterized by a sense of optimism. While bilateral trust may endure through the Obama era, challenges will ensue thereafter.
China supported the move to restore U.S-Cuba diplomatic relations and urges the U.S. to further lift its trade embargo. The thaw in relations with Cuba can also inform the China-U.S. relationship, though Obama will face some challenges from the new Republican congress.
Cui Liru describes a transforming international picture of national power relations, one that is moving toward a multipolar world of influence. In order to avoid the possibilities or true confrontation, China must more clearly realize what it wants to achieve in the world, and also needs to imagine what a peaceful coexistence with the U.S. would look like.
Chen Xiangyang presents a comprehensive overview of the successful highlights of Chinese diplomacy in 2014, focusing on: 1) Xi’s refreshing diplomatic strategies; 2) diplomatic progress with major countries; 3) periphery diplomacy’s steady progress in both crisis control and rights preservation; 4) proactive “home court diplomacy”; 5) economic diplomacy; and 6) its role as a “responsible major country” in dealing with global challenges.
Chen Yonglong explains the six “normal” states of interaction that will define the China-U.S. relationship: in redefining shared global power; in how leaders conduct dialogue; in economics; in strategic contention of hegemony and ideology; in their efforts to control dispute; and finally in their cycles of balance and rebalance.
In the two and a half years since Beijing raised the concept of building a “new model of major-country relations,” the U.S. has made statements that it doesn’t completely subscribe. However, as Yu Sui explains, these concerns are out of fear of a unilateral U.S. concession to Chinese demands, rather than an understanding of the mutual benefits at stake.
Chinese experts underestimate the strong drivers underpinning the U.S. pivot to Asia, which will likely continue despite the Democratic losses in the recent congressional elections and the retirement of the U.S. Defense Secretary. Indeed, President Obama’s Asian policies enjoy bipartisan support and remain a White House priority despite economic and other challenges.
After several years of drift and decline, the US-China relationship ended 2014 modestly improved. The central task going into a new year is to build on this new momentum to strengthen the foundation of the relationship, build strategic trust, and work in tandem (or in parallel) on global issues of mutual concern.