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Foreign Policy

Being Wary of the Media’s Narrative on US-China Relations

Jan 20 , 2012

Speaker: Dr. Banning Garrett, Director of the Atlantic Council's Asia Program and Strategic Foresight Initiative

Date: December 23, 2011


Summary: The western media has long maintained its own narrative of US-China relations; a zero-sum power struggle between a rising East Asian power and an international hegemon in decline. As a result, the whole hype about ‘China’s rise’ has stirred a great deal of unnecessary anxiety and concern from the public. It has also become a valuable component for populist domestic politics and policymaking.

Dr. Banning Garrett warns of the dangers in taking these overblown conceptions too seriously. US-China relations need not be confrontational at all. In fact the two powers are as interdependent as ever and the respective success of each, essentially depends on the success of the other. Long-term understanding and mutual reassurance will be needed. The US should try and understand China’s regional security needs better. China meanwhile, should try and convince the international community that it is willing to use its power responsibly and contribute more to providing public goods such as regional security and dealing with global issues such as climate change.

Overall, building trust, removing suspicion and solving common and global problems together will be the keys to fostering a more mutually constructive and productive bilateral partnership. 

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