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Foreign Policy

How to Direct Sino-US Ties after Obama’s Reelection?

Nov 22 , 2012
  • Wu Sike

    Member on Foreign Affairs Committee, CPPCC

The curtain has fallen for the 2012 US presidential election, an event that caught worldwide attention. As Barack Obama celebrated his success in securing a stay in the Oval Office for another four years, Americans have started to wonder how their new president will revitalize their battered economy. The Chinese, meanwhile, have a different concern: How will the new US administration handle its ties with Beijing?

It happened that this author was visiting the United States when Obama and Romney met in their third and last face-off. Rounding up the debate was the China-related topic: ‘China’s rise and the world’s future.’ This was the first time China was brought up as an independent topic of debate between US presidential candidates. The two contestants seemed to echo each other. At the same time while pointing out the importance of maintaining good terms with China, both candidates asserted that ‘China must observe the rule of game’ in trade. Needless to say, this debate will have a direct impact on the United States’ China policy and its trade and economic ties with Beijing in the future, a concerning development for many caring about Sino-US relations.  

Why was China mentioned time and again as an issue of concern throughout the 2012 US presidential election? The answer might be found in the headaches that are plaguing the United States today, such as a slow economic recovery and a high unemployment rate. While suffering a continuous slowdown of its economy ever since the outbreak of the global financial crisis, the US has seen its financial deficits rise over $1 trillion for four years straight, a figure that has kept US business executives on pins and needles. Meanwhile, the US general public has keenly felt the sting of growing unemployment, as evidenced by several US polls during the presidential campaign that found economic issues and unemployment were of top concern for 37 percent of respondents, although many have also come to worry about the impact of Chinese commodities on their domestic economy or fear China’s overall development.

What then should be done to ally American fears and rebuild Sino-US relations? First, Americans should turn their attention to the eye-catching achievements China has made in economic development since implementing economic reforms. In US supermarkets, shelves are filled with commodities from China. While enjoying the fruit of economic globalization – easy access to commodities of high quality and low price – many Americans have come to worry about the contraction of domestic manufacturing. The US government has gone further by initiating numerous anti-dumping cases raising trade disputes against China.

Second, it should be understood that trade disputes are commensurate with trade. Disputes between trading partners should be settled through consultation with the concerned parties and pertinent guilds or councils, and never classified as political. It should also be noted that ‘to move ahead by rule’ is a prerequisite for successful trade and cooperation between enterprises; the World Trade Organization and other world bodies are competent enough to handle all disputes. With such understandings, the international community will no longer blindly politicalize or demonize the interactions between Chinese and US enterprises.

Through its peaceful development, China, with a population of more than 1.3 billion, will surely propel global growth. When it comes to matters of economic development, China’s goal is to remain confident, brainstorm new ideas, and seize new opportunities, ensuring its irreplaceable role throughout the global financial crisis. While many developed countries continue to struggle in the mire of economic depression or social unrest, China has not only kept its financial system sound and stable, but also registered annual GDP growth above 8 percent and maintained steady growth of trade and investment to become a main engine powering the growth and recovery of the world economy.

Additionally, China has made efforts to spur domestic consumption, stabilize economic development, participate in multilateral rescue programs, and accelerate the pace of economic activities in the United States and Europe. China has also developed several proposals and joint-programs to combat the global financial crisis through resolute opposition to all forms of trade and investment protectionism.

As for its relationship with the United States, China wants ties between the two global powers to exemplify the principles of common development, prosperity, and security. As a major participant in, promoter of and contributor to international systems, China will surely play an increasingly important role in developing a world of lasting peace and harmony. Now, the Obama administration must engage Sino-US relations from the perspective of benefiting the interests of both the US and Chinese peoples.

To effectively revitalize the US economy and foster good relations with China, President Obama should first narrow America’s colossal budget deficit and guide US finances onto the track of healthy development. President Obama must reverse perceptions that the United States will continue to distance itself from China in terms of economic relations. By dampening the enthusiasm of Chinese enterprises, foreign investment in the United States has decreased. Also, as the largest creditor of the United States, China holds $1.15 trillion US treasury bonds. Thus, relations between the two nations will have a direct bearing on the performance of their economies. Moreover, the Sino-US relationship is no longer a relationship just between China and the US. Instead, with strong strategic connotations, it is a relationship of immediate concern to entire global economy.

Therefore, it is my hope, that President Obama will join China’s new leadership to explore opportunities that define a distinct baseline and lay a solid foundation for the healthy development of Sino-US relations.


Wu Sike is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and member of the Foreign Policy Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


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