To what extent the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting can achieve its goal of boosting economic growth is determined by how China and the US handle relations with each other.
Western opinions hyped that China and the US would fight for dominance in the region. In US President Barack Obama's speech on Monday, he stressed the importance of China and reiterated that the US welcomed "the rise of a peaceful, prosperous China." On Tuesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Obama took a stroll together in Zhongnanhai, indicating a relaxed atmosphere between the two leaders.
Although China-US relations have become tense in the past few years, the Chinese people will regard Obama as a moderate president. The mistrust between major powers cannot be easily explained and eliminated, given their lack of experience in doing so.
In the foreseeable future, perhaps no one can tell what the state China-US relations will be. Both Beijing and Washington have been making efforts to know more about each other through cooperation and handling friction. But both insist on using their own means to maintain their national interests and lack the ability of doing so without offending each other. Both hold their bottom lines and are believed to be preparing for the worst-case scenario.
Despite this, the two countries have more in common. In Obama's speech on Monday, he re-stressed Xi's comments, made when the two met in California in June 2013, that "the Pacific Ocean is big enough for both of our nations."
But we still don't quite understand the US. Obama has reiterated that the US will not seek to contain China. Is he sincere? The US has deployed 60 percent of its military to the Asia-Pacific. The US has offered shelter to those seeking the independence of the Tibet and Xinjiang autonomous regions. The Occupy Central movement in Hong Kong also has US backing. The US pivot to Asia strategy has obviously encouraged an anti-China mentality in China's neighboring countries. Meanwhile, the Americans also complain that they don't understand China and wonder what China's real stance toward the US is.
As China develops in all aspects of society, it is not easy for it to explicitly describe its US policy. The contradiction is that the US is the primary target to open our door, but at the same time we have to remain watchful. Perhaps US society also holds the same contradictory feelings about China.
For China, knowing the US is the basis to know about the Western world and is also an indicator for China to make national strategies. For the US, having a correct understanding of China is key to ensuring that no mistakes will occur in its national strategies in the 21st century.
At the current stage, we should admit that it is difficult to achieve this goal. But we have to overcome mutual difficulties. We should avoid viewing each other from the worst perspectives. The Pacific Ocean is big, and our hearts should be bigger.