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Foreign Policy

China and the U.S. Must Find a Way to Improve Relations

Mar 24, 2023
  • Wu Zurong

    Research Fellow, China Foundation for Int'l Studies

At the recent two sessions of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing, Chinese Premier Li Qiang and Foreign Minister Qin Gang reiterated China's policy towards the US. Their statements included several important messages that the US should take to heart if it hopes to manage the Sino-US relationship successfully. 

First, the current trajectory of Sino-US relations is worrying and dangerous, and must be reversed. US actions in recent years have seriously eroded the foundation of the relationship. If the two countries continue to interact in the same way, the result will be an accumulation of misunderstanding that could lead to a new Cold War or even a hot war, with catastrophic consequences for both sides. 

Second, China and the US can coexist peacefully and work together for a better future. Both countries desire to avoid a new Cold War or conflict. However, US actions do not always match this stated desire. To improve relations, US policymakers should listen more to their citizens and increase their knowledge of China. Improved understanding of China's development and strategic intentions is key to a successful US-China policy. 

Third, China's US policy has not changed with the new administration. China will continue to prioritize mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation. China believes that it is possible to improve relations and that there is no reason to make them worse. China will make every effort to improve the relationship while preparing for the worst-case scenario. 

Fourth, it is feasible for the two countries to find a way to coexist to their mutual benefit and that of the world. The US proposal to establish "guardrails" for the relationship is too narrow and low in its goals. Once the two countries have found a way to interact successfully, guardrails will naturally be established. Despite their differences, China and the US are two great nations that must deal with each other. They have had rich experiences in their bilateral relations for over 200 years, and there is no obstacle they cannot overcome. 

Fifth, mutual respect is paramount to a successful relationship. China believes that all countries, big or small, strong or weak, are equal. While history has seen powerful nations oppress smaller ones, such a scenario is not applicable to the current situation between China and the US. As globalization brings the two countries closer, mutual respect is necessary to manage the relationship effectively. Without it, tensions will only escalate, causing harm to both peoples. 

Sixth, neither side should seek to harm the other. Over the past 40 years, the Sino-US relationship has experienced ups and downs. One of the most valuable lessons learned is that both sides should seek common ground while managing differences. In the current difficult situation, both sides must work even harder to find common ground and manage differences. Specifically, the US must stop actions that exacerbate tensions over Taiwan, such as high-level visits, arms sales, sending American servicemen, and interfering in China's internal affairs. 

Seventh, the Chinese and American people share friendly relations, and the two countries have many common interests. Millions of jobs in both countries depend on trade, investment, education, culture, sports, and other areas of exchange. China and the US have a great responsibility for world peace, economic development, and tackling global issues such as climate change, infectious diseases, grain safety, poverty reduction, and cross-border crimes. It is clear that many of these issues cannot be resolved without close cooperation between the two countries. Cooperation not only helps eliminate misunderstandings and threats but also facilitates global peace and prosperity. A new Cold War or hot war between the two countries would only create a divided world which benefits no one.

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