By Zhong Sheng,
Since Chinese President Xi Jinping had a meeting with his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden in Bali, Indonesia last year, Chinese and American diplomatic and national security teams, as well as financial and trade teams have maintained close contact to follow up on the major issues the two leaders discussed and implement the important common understandings they came to.
The international society hopes that the two major countries can make joint efforts to find the right way of interaction so as to serve as an anchor of stability in the fast-changing world and play a major role in promoting global economic recovery after the pandemic, tackling climate change and solving regional hotspot issues.
In recent years, the U.S. hasn’t let go of its obsession with treating China as a so-called strategic competitor, which not only traps China-U.S. relations, but also makes world peace and development unstable.
Stephen Roach, a senior fellow at Yale University, recently warned that the two countries’ “ability to tackle these enormous and important global issues will be severely constrained” if they remain conflicted.
What the U.S. side should understand is that there is competition in the world at any time, but competition should be to learn from each other, catch up with each other, and make progress together, not “If you lose and I win; You die and I live.” Blind anti-China approaches will not work.
Xi said that it would be problematic if two major countries like China and the U.S. do not have overarching principled common understandings. Only with principles can there be a direction, and only with a direction can the two sides properly handle differences and expand cooperation.
During the meeting between Xi and Biden, the two presidents agreed on the importance of working out the guiding principles for China-U.S. relations, and further explored the topic with constructive discussions.
The Chinese side proposed that China and the U.S. should respect each other, coexist in peace and pursue win-win cooperation, and work together to ensure that China-U.S. relations move forward on the right course without losing direction or speed, still less having a collision.
Mutual respect is an important experience drawn from past exchanges between the two sides, as well as a pre-condition of the China-U.S. relations getting back to the right track.
China and the U.S. are two major countries with different histories, cultures, social systems and development paths. There have been differences in the past, and there will be more in the future. But such differences should not become an obstacle to developing China-U.S. relations.
China respects the social system of the U.S., and always hopes that the U.S. will stay open and confident, keep growing and make progress. Likewise, the U.S. should respect China’s development path.
The leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and China’s socialist system have the support of 1.4 billion people. They are the fundamental guarantee for China’s development and stability.
It is vital to recognize and respect such differences if China and the U.S. are to get along. Neither side should try to remold the other in one’s own image, or seek to change or even subvert the other’s system.
The U.S. must prevent its ideological prejudices from blinding its China policy, and take concrete actions to fulfill its promise that the U.S. respects China’s system, and does not seek to change it.
It is the two sides’ mutual and fundamental interest to prevent conflict and confrontation and achieve peaceful coexistence. China remains committed to an independent foreign policy of peace and to its foreign policy goals of upholding world peace and promoting common development.
Some in the U.S., who can’t get rid of the Cold War mentality, take China as an imaginary enemy when they see its development steps. The U.S. side should remove such a major barrier impeding the peaceful coexistence between China and the U.S. as soon as possible.
Observing the basic norms of international relations and the three Sino-U.S. joint communiqués is vitally important for the two sides to manage differences and disagreements and prevent confrontation and conflict; indeed, it is the most important guardrail and safety net for China-U.S. relations.
Once the two countries conflict or confront, be it in the form of cold war, hot war, trade war, or tech war, it will eventually damage the interests of China, the U.S. and the rest of the world.
The Taiwan question is at the very core of China’s core interests. It is the bedrock of the political foundation of China-U.S. relations, and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-U.S. relations.
The U.S. should abandon its obsession with containing China. It should put its pledge into action that the U.S. does not seek a new Cold War, does not seek to revitalize alliances against China, does not support “Taiwan independence,” does not support “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan”, and has no intention to have a conflict with China.
Win-win cooperation is the true narrative of China-U.S. relations in the past half a century, and should remain the goal that the two countries both pursue.
China and the U.S. have extensive common interests in bilateral and multilateral fields, and they can and should cooperate in many areas. Their cooperation list should be extended, not cut down.
According to China’s General Administration of Customs, the total trade between China and the U.S. reached a record high of 5.05 trillion yuan ($748.5 billion) in 2022. It fully demonstrates that what the Chinese and American people desire is cooperation driven by win-win outcomes, though some people in the U.S. are addicted to “decoupling from China.”
During the Bali meeting, Biden said the U.S. side has no intention to seek “decoupling” from China or to halt China’s economic development. The U.S. should do what it has promised and stop politicizing and weaponizing economic and trade ties as well as exchanges in science and technology.
The international society is expecting China and the U.S. to jointly cope with global challenges. Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson recently said in an article on Foreign Affairs that “without a stable relationship between the U.S. and China, where cooperation on shared interests is possible, the world will be a very dangerous and less prosperous place.”
Exploring the right way to get along with each other is a common expectation of the people in the two countries and the rest of the world as well.
The two sides need to have a sense of responsibility for history, for the world and for the people, define their interaction with dialogue and win-win cooperation rather than confrontation and zero-sum competition, and bring their relationship to the track of healthy and stable growth to the benefit of the two countries and the world as a whole.
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy and international affairs.)