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Foreign Policy

Cooperation is the Only Way Out for China and the U.S.

Jul 08 , 2014
  • Wu Zurong

    Research Fellow, China Foundation for Int'l Studies

The 6th meeting of the China-United States Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) is scheduled for July 2014 in Beijing. It is a very important and valuable opportunity for Chinese and U.S. senior officials to seriously discuss bilateral issues, to exchange views on the new challenges and developments in the world during the past year, and to work out plans for advancing Sino-U.S. relations over the next year. To promote the sustained building of a new type of major power relationship between China and the U.S., both countries have two top priorities: The first is continued expansion of bilateral cooperation. The second is effective management and control of disputes and differences. Cooperation is the only single way for China and the U.S. to manage their relations. Particularly important to the smooth development of Sino-U.S. relations is the gradual elimination or reservation of differences through sincere dialogue.     

Wu Zurong

With both the Chinese and U.S. governments committed to building a new type of Sino-U.S. relationship, it is encouraging that more people in both nations believe that conflict or war is not inevitable. When China and the U.S. persist in working together to resolve, through cooperation and consultation, new problems and challenges that crop up in their relations, they then have room enough to allow their relations to move forward. They also avoid any major conflicts or intense confrontation. The past 42 years––basically since Nixon’s historic trip to China––have proven this to be true.    

Bilateral cooperation in areas where there are common interests has developed beyond anyone’s optimistic assessment. In turn, this has benefited the people of both countries, as well as the entire world. Prospects are so bright that future cooperation knows no bounds. Cooperation on issues like the economy and trade, climate change, anti-terrorism, combating cross-country crimes to those of cyber security, peaceful use of the outer space and maritime affairs are entirely attainable. The potential for cooperation is great. Additionally, despite the weak global economy and various other issues, there has been sustained modest growth in bilateral trade, as well as bilateral military exchanges during the past year. 

It is of utmost importance that both China and the U.S. do every thing possible to prevent any miscalculation and military conflict. Even a very small-scale accidental armed conflict between China and the United States will alarm the entire world, causing incalculable damage to Sino-U.S. relations, world peace, and the global economy. Such an undesirable scenario shows that cooperation is the single way out for the two powers; there is no other choice.    

Currently, more attention should be devoted to the discussion of how to deal with differences concerning the situation in the East and South China Seas, as well as on cyber security. The United States has recently taken an accusatory stance toward China on the East and South China Seas issue. China, expectedly, believes this is totally unreasonable and counter-productive to bilateral relations and regional peace. 

What the U.S. is doing in fulfilling their treaty obligations with Japan and the Philippines can only provide them with opportunities to exploit differences between China and the U.S. for their own selfish interests. It can never daunt China, nor help the resolution of any problems there, but will damage U.S. credibility in China and poison the atmosphere of Sino-U.S. relations. Thus, it is advisable to conduct detailed exchanges of views on these issues at the 6th meeting of the S&ED to be held soon.    

With regard to the resumption of the normal activities of the joint working group on cyber-security, the most desirable step is for the U.S. to rescind the so-called indictment of five Chinese army officers so that both countries can begin to honestly cooperate on the issue. 

Effective management and control of differences between China and the U.S. might be a big challenge at this moment. And analysts will have a lot to say on the issues of both countries’ strategic intentions, tactical maneuvers, and interactions in Asia.  However, things may not be as complicated as analysts think so long as the U.S. truly regards China as an equal partner and respects in action China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. After all, mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, equality and mutual benefit are basic principles that guide both international relations and China-U.S. relations. The U.S., as the only superpower in the world, can undoubtedly help manage and control differences, as well as contribute more to the smooth and healthy development of Sino-U.S. relations by strictly observing the above-mentioned principles. It is our hope the upcoming S&ED will yield positive energy for the China-U.S. relations. 

Wu Zurong is a research fellow at the China Foundation for International Studies.  

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