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Wen Wei Po, Hong Kong

Kerry’s Appointment Is a
Boon for US-China Relations

Translated By Nathan Hsu

31 January 2013

Edited by Anita Dixon

Hong Kong - Wen Wei Po - Original Article (Chinese)

The U.S. Senate has overwhelmingly approved John Kerry's posting as the next secretary of state. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton assumed a hard stance toward China and spared no effort in implementing the return to Asia strategy, egging on surrounding countries to challenge China and crippling U.S.-China relations in one fell blow. Hillary's succession by Kerry, who is seen as having a deeper understanding of China, brings the warmth of a new dawn for U.S.-China relations; future U.S. policy toward China will very likely fall on the side of pragmatism and cooperation. The relationship between China and the U.S. is the most important one on the planet. Tightly-knit interests, frequent interaction and the active promotion of a cooperative partnership on both sides is in accordance with U.S. interests, as well as being of benefit to the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region, and even the world.

The secretary of state is responsible for foreign affairs and is the chief advisor to the U.S. president on international matters, with enormous influence over foreign policy. Because of her strong hawkish style, Hillary's influence over foreign policy during her term as secretary of state was seemingly even greater than Obama’s. In January 2009, Hillary first brought up the use of "smart power" to manage global relations, opening the door for the U.S. return to Asia. Afterward, the heart of U.S. strategy shifted from Europe to Asia and the tranquility of the Asia-Pacific region was broken. The problems in the South and East China Seas escalated in quick succession; tension rose between China and India, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam and other countries. This continued until a few days ago when Hillary was set to step down, but still seized her last chance to take a hard line toward China on the Diaoyu issue. It is precisely because of Hillary's fixed determination upon the return to Asia and the strategy to contain China that the flames of discord were fanned throughout Asia, harming China's relations with its neighbors and the United States.

Compared with the fiercer Hillary, Kerry is clearly more temperate, respects multiple sides and does not force matters through outmoded unilateralism. At his confirmation hearing before the Senate, Kerry pointed out that the U.S. must exercise its role as a world leader and cannot solely rely on military might, but must also make contributions in food, energy security, humanitarian aid and other fields. The economy and national power of the U.S. are not what they used to be; Kerry's stance is one of seeing clearly American priorities in national development. It is also a course correction of Hillary's foreign policy, as the U.S. can no longer depend on pushing its own system of values on other states and forcing them to do as the U.S. wishes.

As to the closely-watched relationship between the U.S. and China, Kerry emphasized that China is an important economy and that the U.S. should view China as a cooperative partner instead of an enemy. As all know, China and the U.S. are the world's largest developing and developed countries respectively, and at the same time are also the top two economies in the world. The two have long since formed a close relationship through interlinked interests, and can cooperate for mutual gain or oppose each other to their mutual ruin. At present, the Western economies are struggling and China is the "locomotive" pulling along the recovery of the global economy. China has consistently insisted upon peaceful development and has never made any claim to hegemony or threatened other states. If Kerry can reverse Hillary's hard-line policies toward China as he steps into the role of secretary of state, substitute cooperation for containment and adopt practical and realistic measures, the U.S. will not only unquestionably benefit from cooperation between the two economies, but it will also reduce the risk of regional disputes and fulfill its role as a responsible power for the peaceful development of the world.



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