With New Secretary of State, Curse
of Sino-US Mistrust May Be Lifted
The next four years will play a large part in determining whether future relations between the U.S. and China become more peaceful or more strained.
Translated By Dagny Dukach
23 January 2013
Edited by Hana Livingston
China - Huanqiu - Original Article (Chinese)
Barack Obama, now serving his second term as president of the United States, has nominated former presidential candidate John Kerry as the new secretary of state. It is hardly surprising that Kerry is at last becoming America’s secretary of state. He has no competitors for the position and is an experienced senator, having been on the foreign relations committee of the U.S. Senate for quite some time.
Will Sino-U.S. relations in the next four years be much of an improvement over the last four years? The answer to this question will determine the strategic atmosphere for the entire Asia Pacific region, and it will have considerable influence on expectations regarding the nature of international relations in the 21st century.
To be fair, during the last four years under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, no great conflicts have taken place between the U.S. and China. Nevertheless, suspicions have worsened between these two great powers across the Pacific. Both covert and semi-public rivalry between the two countries has increased. To keep relations from worsening, each nation’s tactics must become progressively more earnest. Objectively speaking, Hillary’s Sino-U.S. strategies have only encouraged the continuous brewing of mutual suspicion.
The U.S. and China have gradually come to a crossroads. The two countries must comprehensively and irreversibly expand their spheres of contact with one another, thus naturally shaping the nature of their future relations. Or, the mutual mistrust will be ignored, causing us to move toward increasing hostilities and forcing the direction of bilateral relations through these sorts of subjective methods.
America is a world hegemon and China, too, has grown into a strategic global role. A mutual understanding between two such countries cannot be created overnight; it must grow one layer at a time. The next four years will play a large part in determining whether future relations between the U.S. and China become more peaceful or more strained.
Over the next four years, the disparity in power between the U.S. and China may shrink further. Nearly all past experience in international politics demonstrates that there are real grounds for the exacerbation of tensions in Sino-U.S. relations. China’s strength is fast reaching that of the U.S. A select few people might soon cast a political curse over these two great nations, and that is for certain. In this day and age, both spontaneity and empiricism are dangerous.
Hillary was a strong secretary of state and has left her personal mark on America’s diplomatic relations toward China. Her conviction in the superiority of her value system and her aggression in international relations engendered many misunderstandings between the U.S. and China. Her approach was not mutually suitable for both countries.
Kerry participated in the Vietnam War, his personal experience is more complex, and his way of thinking is formed from a more diverse background. Most experts believe he might be a more “peaceful” secretary of state. I can only hope this will be true.
Ultimately, the U.S. and China’s attitudes toward one another will hinge upon the two nations’ strategic interests. The actions of individuals will not really make that much of a difference, although at this particular time the ideologies and styles of our leaders have special significance. In reality, Sino-U.S. relations have a strong and secure foundation. The source of tensions is, for the most part, a question of geopolitical issues — an ideological matter.
Ever since America became the top world power, especially since the end of World War II, it has always been more than capable of overcoming all geopolitical challenges. America is utterly unfamiliar with China’s situation. It needs to develop new ideologies in order to understand China. Its ways of thinking cannot remain the same as they were in past eras.
Strategic Sino-U.S. interaction could yield improvements for all of human civilization. Success would signify the end of a long history of great powers being unable to rise to power peacefully. It would change the tragic state of politics between the global powers and would put an end to war forevermore. Failure would be a great setback for humanity, as it would have us continue to fumble around painfully in this labyrinth of international politics.
The American president’s second term in office comes as a relief to the general public, as it may reveal the president’s true colors. Obama’s life story and experience give the outside world reason to have relatively high expectations. The world is changing; diversification on a global scale is growing endlessly on every level. Whether or not America’s national interests will be able to accept more openness will depend on Obama’s next four years.
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