The seventh round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue and the sixth round of the U.S.-China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange were held in Washington, D.C. on June 23 and 24. Against the complex backdrop of dispute between the two sides over the South China Sea and the eve of the U.S. presidential election, the dialogue and the consultation — for the first time held simultaneously in the U.S. — have received much attention. Although conflicts on some issues between the U.S. and China remain, consensus was reached for many others. Through the dialogue and consultation, both sides can expect to achieve significant results in areas like controlling disputes, easing conflicts, strengthening cooperation and building a new type of model for relations between major countries.
For some time, the United States’ strategy of pivoting to Asia has, on the one hand, permitted the Abe government in Japan to avoid addressing its historical issues or even to attempt to break through the boundaries set by the postwar peace constitution. On the other hand, the U.S. has repeatedly criticized China’s actions on strengthening its infrastructure in the South China Sea with comprehensive safeguarding of maritime rights and interests, even condoning the disturbances in the South China Sea caused by countries like the Philippines, [thus] casting a shadow over U.S.-China relations. The main reason these issues surfaced is due to problems with the American hegemonic ideology, which very often plays tricks and creates obstacles for U.S.-China relations, making the path for building a new type of model for major-country relations difficult and tortuous. However, despite significant differences between their common interests, both the U.S. and China need to hold such dialogues and high-level consultations to face this complex environment. China has always hoped to narrow its differences and strengthen communication and cooperation on the basis of common interests. As Chairman Xi Jinping put it, “China is ready to work with the United States to make efforts in a number of priority areas and putting into effect such principles as nonconfrontation, non-conflict, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. And with unwavering spirit and unremitting efforts, we will promote new progress in building a new type of model of major-country relations between the two countries.”
In his speech, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said that the U.S. hopes to see China’s rise, with no intention to contain China, as China’s peaceful development is beneficial to the U.S., Asia and the world. Important achievements in many fields have been made because of U.S.-China cooperation, and the U.S. is willing to work with China to deepen cooperation in various sectors, engage in fair and sound competition, properly handle differences, develop long-term and stable U.S.-China relations, and jointly meet the global challenges of the 21st century. Independent analysts believe that, although diplomatic, Biden’s words reflect how the U.S. reacted when faced with China’s irreversible rise: having to accept reality and demonstrate its position [while] hoping to maintain a favorable partnership between the two countries. With the desire from both sides to ease contradictions and strengthen cooperation, these dialogues and consultations have macroscopically achieved significant results and, to a certain extent, these narrowing of differences will create a more favorable atmosphere for Chairman Xi Jinping’s planned visit to the U.S. in September.