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Responsibility for Global Stability

Aug 03, 2022
  • Li Yan

    Deputy Director of Institute of American Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations

On the night of July 28, the presidents of China and the United States discussed relations and issues of common concern in by telephone. It was the second phone conversation between the two this year, following one in March. Under the current circumstances, top-level China-U.S. exchanges are of major pragmatic significance to bilateral relations and world stability.

The international situation highlights the pressing need for China and the U.S. to assume their due responsibilities and cooperate to preserve global stability. Risks and challenges facing the international community have grown more complicated since March. COVID-19 continues to endanger humanity. The global impact of the protracted Russia-Ukraine conflict are increasingly felt. Chaos in supply chains and adjustments to industrial chains are dealing heavy blows to the international system’s normal operation. And an energy crisis, food crisis and financial risks are accumulating and breaking out in some countries.

As President Xi Jinping said, “The two trends —global turbulence and changes — continue to evolve. The two deficits, in development and security, are gaining prominence.”

Against this international backdrop, the global connotations of China-U.S. relations have become even more prominent, so the need for the China-U.S. relationship to get back on a normal track is of special significance. This indicates a fundamental need for the two countries to maintain communication and exchanges and to increase the frequency of candid, in-depth communication, both on bilateral relations and major international issues. Communication between the two sides at various levels in various fields have shown recent increases, which is obviously good news for the world at large. International conditions call for China and the U.S. to genuinely assume their due major-country responsibilities and play their role as a global stabilizer.

An important premise to this is that the U.S. needs to see China in an objective, rational manner. The last two U.S. administrations have seen and defined China-U.S. relations from the perspective of strategic competition, continuously hyped the so-called China threat, and recklessly tried to contain and suppress China in various ways. The U.S. government’s outlook on China has led to misjudgments in relations and the misreading of Chinese development. It has also misled the international community. This is why China-U.S. relations have deteriorated dramatically and why working together to resolve global problems has been obstructed.

China has explicitly pointed out U.S. strategic mistakes in corresponding dialogues. Now the U.S. side needs to faithfully implement well the important consensuses the two countries’ leaders have reached. U.S. strategic circles need to develop an objective, rational outlook on China as soon as possible. And the Biden administration needs to overcome the disruptions of domestic politics and extreme anti-China forces. This is the only way for China and the U.S. to really cooperate to boost their respective economies, preserve world economic growth and stave off risks of turbulence and recession.

The Taiwan question will be an important test of the U.S. outlook on China, which is a prominent topic in current bilateral discussions. The U.S. has often played the Taiwan card in recent years and gradually upgraded exchanges with Taiwan at various levels and in various fields, undermining the bilateral relationship’s political foundation.

The Chinese side has repeatedly underscored the Taiwan question’s importance and sensitivity in recent dialogues. In the July 28 phone call, President Xi highlighted the Chinese side’s position on Taiwan, pointing out, in particular, that “the historical context of the Taiwan question is crystal clear,” — that both sides of the Taiwan Strait are part of China. “The will of the people cannot be defied, and those who play with fire will perish by it.” Such statements again solemnly expound the Chinese stance on Taiwan, and show the Chinese side’s steadfast resolve to preserve the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Biden claimed the U.S. has not changed its one-China policy, and doesn’t support Taiwan independence. What’s important is the Biden government needs to actually honor its pledges, match words with deeds and correct recent mistakes. In the 50 years since China and the U.S. normalized diplomatic relations, all previous administrations, the Democratic and Republican parties and all political forces have been keenly aware of the special sensitivity of the Taiwan question.

If the U.S. side indulges pro-Taiwan forces at home and continues manipulating the Taiwan card, it will fundamentally damage China-U.S. relations. The U.S. side has on multiple occasions advocated “guardrails” for bilateral relations. It should begin by correctly handling the Taiwan question.

Under the premise of creating a stable political foundation for China-U.S. relations, bilateral interaction has been warming lately, bit by bit, and creating a fine atmosphere for the two sides to cooperate on preserving world stability. Judging from current international conditions, China-U.S. cooperation may focus on some significant issues in the near future.

Facing the increasingly gloomy world economic situation, the two sides should maintain close communication and coordinate their macroeconomic policies. China-U.S. policy coordination during the 2008 financial crisis was an important condition and reason for leading the world out of its difficulties. Facing the present challenges presented by the global energy and food crises, China and the U.S. need to find a starting point for effective collaboration — either follow the route of bilateral cooperation or take advantage of such multilateral platforms as the UN and G20.

If the two countries could start with specific collaborative projects, break the bottlenecks of international supply chains and provide assistance to countries suffering from shortages of grain, oil and gas, it will certainly be conducive to the two parties restoring their habit of cooperation and begin again to accumulate positive energy for bilateral ties.

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