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The People's Daily, China

Successfully Navigating
the US and China’s New
Great Power Relationship


By Jia Xiudong

Translated By Nathan Hsu

14 November 2012

Edited by Molly Rusk


China - The People's Daily - Original Article (Chinese)

An overview of the world's mainstream media outlets shows that the future direction of relations between the U.S. and China has been a focal point of late.

Relations between the two countries have been widely viewed for some time now as the most important relationship on the globe. After many turbulent years, both sides have finally reached a consensus on the construction a new great power relationship.

The path is one previously untraveled by any other great powers in history. In this new age, it is necessary that China and the U.S. proceed down this path, which is naturally not without its challenges.

Under these new circumstances, and in developing this new type of great power relationship, particular emphasis should be placed on addressing three issues.

First, how will the U.S. view China's strategic intentions?

Reports from the Chinese Communist Party's 18th National Congress mention a new philosophy for foreign affairs. This new philosophy clearly outlines China's path and strategy for future progress: Peaceful development is the will of the state and a fundamental national policy, and choosing cooperation for mutual benefit has become emblematic of China's development in international relations. At the same time, China must safeguard its core interests with regard to its national sovereignty, security and development. These two points constitute the two great pillars of China's foreign policy strategy, and they are not mutually exclusive.

There has always been uncertainty and suspicion within the U.S. about China's future. Based on this suspicion, the U.S. has hedged its bets. Viewing China with the zero-sum mentality, assuming that hegemony is inevitable and that great powers must contend with each other is harmful, to U.S.-China relations. This mentality cannot be allowed to affect strategic trust and positive interaction. Dialogue rather than confrontation, cooperation rather than containment and a relationship as partners rather than opponents — this should be the consensus of both sides on viewing and managing U.S.-China relations.

Second, how will the U.S. implement its "re-balancing" strategy?

The "re-balance" that the Obama administration strongly advocated in its first term will continue in the U.S. president’s second term. It will gradually become the foundation of America's foreign strategy and, in particular, its security strategy. The U.S. government has repeatedly stressed that the strategy is not aimed toward China, but the discourse within even third party nations is one of disbelief. As the U.S. has worked on “re-balancing” over the last few years, military and security elements have become more prominent in the Asia-Pacific; the region is increasingly worried that this may spark a regional arms race as a result and create further complications in international relations.

The U.S. must rethink its strategy. The country must not only handle the “re-balance” from the perspective of America's global strategy; it must also keep in mind the formation of this new great power relationship between itself and China. It must seriously consider which aspects of its strategy are not beneficial to this relationship, which aspects will increase strategic distrust between the two nations and which aspects will cause harm to U.S. interests. As to whether or not the U.S. can do this, President Obama's visit to Myanmar and Thailand, as well as his appearance at the East Asia Summit, will provide a window for insight.

Third, how will both sides take advantage of the potential for cooperation and mutual benefit?

Both nations must realize that cooperation and mutual benefit are crucial components in the development of a new type of great power relationship. In truth, the goals and philosophies of the foreign policies of the two countries are vastly different. However, the U.S. and China also share extensive mutual interests; mutually beneficial cooperation is both desired by the people and the natural course to take. This cooperation would be built upon the foundation of American and Chinese mutual interests, and is necessary to build strategic trust.

Exploring the potential for, conditions for and path toward realizing mutually beneficial cooperation between the U.S. and China will allow it to become a focal point in the two nations' policies. Doing so will aid the successful navigation of this new great power relationship in the future.

There is a saying in China: "Every family has its problems." Both China and the U.S. face difficult internal issues, and dealing with these domestic challenges will demand great effort in both countries. From another perspective, both nations should view some of these internal challenges as potential opportunities for cooperation. The same could be said of complex and volatile international issues. The U.S. and China should use the ninety-plus mechanisms in place for dialogue, negotiation and cooperation to actively explore the potential for mutually beneficial cooperation. Through this, they can bring concrete benefits to both nations and peoples, and make even greater contributions to world peace, stability and development.

The author is a senior research fellow in residence at the China Institute of International Studies.



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