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Foreign Policy

The Future of China-US Relations Remains Bright

May 28 , 2018
  • Chen Jimin

    Associate Research Fellow, CPC Party School


Recently, Sino-US relations have entered a difficult time. The Trump administration's National Security Strategy defines China as a strategic competitor. The economic friction between China and the United States is constantly escalating. The United States puts more pressure on China on Taiwan and the South China Sea. There is growing pessimism on both sides. However, I remain confident in the future development of China-U.S. relations.

To judge the development of Sino-U.S. relations requires a historical perspective. Historically, the development of Sino-U.S. relations has always seen ups and downs, but it has continued to move forward. Even in the late Cold War period, when China and the United States faced a common security threat, the development of bilateral relations was not easy. For example, due to arms sales to Taiwan during the Reagan administration, relations became challenging and troublesome. After coordination and consultation, the result was the third Sino-U.S. Joint Communique. President George H. W. Bush attached great importance to the relationship with China. He began his visit to China just a month after he took office in 1989. However, even during his administration Sino-U.S. relations experienced major setbacks. However, the two countries finally overcame the obstacles and created a new stage of development. Therefore, when the relations are in difficulty, reviewing history and drawing on its lessons is of great help.

There is a need for dialectical thinking in examining and evaluating China-US relations. Although there are many differences and contradictions, there is no direct geostrategic competition between China and the United States, and this is the most fundamental factor. The two greatest catastrophes of the 20th century, WWI and WWII, originated from geostrategic confrontations between major powers. China and the United States are not engaged in such a geo-strategic game. As President Xi Jinping pointed out: "The Pacific is big enough to accommodate the two countries." Therefore, China and the United States should strengthen their strategic confidence that bilateral relations will eventually improve. At this time, strategic confidence is more valuable than gold.

An international perspective is required. Today, the world faces increasing instability and uncertainty. The deficits in peace, development, and governance are serious challenges facing all humankind. In this context, the international community focuses its attention on the two important countries, China and the United States. How Sino-U.S. relations play out has a direct bearing on world peace and development. Therefore, promoting the development and stability of Sino-U.S. relations not only conforms to the national interests and strategic needs of the two countries, they are also their responsibilities to the world. The international community hopes that China and the United States can build a new model of major power relations. From this perspective, the expectation of the international community for the stable development of Sino-U.S. relations provides new momentum for promoting and safeguarding the development of bilateral relations.

Certainly, managing this relationship requires a farsighted strategic vision. The two sides should understand the importance and complexity of bilateral relations from a strategic perspective, strengthen high-level strategic communications, and avoid strategic misperception and miscalculation. Since the US’ strategic perception of China has turned negative, there is an urgent need for positive interaction. Each party should pay full attention to the other’s strategic concerns and interests, while safeguarding its own legitimate interests. It is worth noting that while the US strategic community has a negative perception of China, the US Gallup poll released in early March showed that 53% of the US public viewed China favorably, the highest percentage in nearly 30 years. This shows strengthening the relationship is feasible.

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