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U.S. Has Nothing to Fear from China

China believes that the United States seeks to stifle its development in an effort to maintain its dominant position. Assuring Americans that the Middle Kingdom, “is in no position, nor does it have the ambition, to challenge the United States,” this article from China’s State-run People’s Daily rebuts American fears, point-by-point.

September 23, 2005

Original Article (English)    

China's attitude toward the United States is an important aspect of its foreign policy. The basic tenets of this policy are that: On the basis of the Three Joint Communiqués, China will strengthen its cooperation, minimize differences, avoid confrontation, develop a constructive cooperative partnership and ensure the long-term stability and development of relations.

This policy is founded on a very deep understanding of the Sino-U.S. relationship.

First of all, the United States is the lone superpower, with the greatest national strength in the world. This state of affairs is not going to change for a long time to come. China, in its effort to strive for an environment that is conducive to its own peaceful development, regards the cultivation of a positive and cooperative relationship with the United States as of the utmost importance.

Taiwan and North Korea Continue to Haunt Relations.

Second, there are a vast number of common interests, and the two countries conduct a high level of effective cooperation in commerce, trade and security - including regional and non-traditional security, like the prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and counter-terrorism.

However, with different social systems and ideologies, both sides must handle relations delicately if they wish to help one another address issues of mutual concern and resolve matters like human rights.

Third, in recent years Sino-American ties have evolved into a relationship between a superpower and a major rising power. The improvement or deterioration of this relationship increasingly influences regional and international events. Beijing is worried that the United States, in order to sustain its dominant position, is bent on obstructing China's development. This has contributed to a heightening of the importance, complexity and sensitivity of relations

Since the end of the Cold War, Sino-U.S. ties have undergone many upheavals. However, since 2002, the relationship has seen such well-rounded development that former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has repeatedly described them as the best in the 30 years since the two countries normalized ties.

But since the beginning of the year, Sino-American disputes have been increasing once more. Apart from the intensification of economic and trade conflicts, friction has also appeared in the political and security arenas.

The matters in question include the lifting of the European Union arms embargo on China, Beijing’s enactment of its Anti-Secession Law [aimed at Taiwan], the United States and Japan making security in the Taiwan Strait a common strategic objective, China's military development, and China’s increasing status and influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Under these circumstances, the notion of the "China threat" has gained currency in the United States. At the same time, in both China and the United States, there are voices arguing that since the war on terror has entered a new phase, conflicts between China and the United States will emerge once again, with the United States considering China a major competitor.

I do not favor such an argument. Indeed, it is not the mainstream opinion in either China or the United States. Although friction has intensified, particularly over commerce or trade, the two countries have generally maintained the pace and stability of development in bilateral ties. Behind this lay several important factors:

- A Better Understanding: Beijing has a clearer understanding of the concern other countries have over China’s rapid development, and has responded to these concerns without an excess of sensitivity. This is well-demonstrated in China's attitude toward the United States.

- No Snap Reactions: There is intense debate in the United States about the renewed "China threat." The Bush Administration has adopted an even policy. While it is showing more concern, it has not changed the basic tenets of its cooperation with China.

- China is not the Soviet Union: Sino-U.S. relations are far different from the Soviet-U.S. relations of the past. China is in no position, nor does it have the ambition, to challenge the United States. For a long time to come, the greatest threat to the United States will remain terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, not a "rising China."

- Lessons Learned: Since the end of the Cold War, China and the United States have gone through several major ups and downs, and through this both countries have accumulated a great deal of experience handling disputes between them. Several mechanisms have been established to enhance the risk of confrontation. To a certain extent, this is also a demonstration of maturing bilateral relations.


- Fear of China’s Military Overblown: The argument that the development of China's military strength will upset the regional military balance is without basis. Many objective American experts don’t agree with this argument. On the military question, with the increasing strategic dialogue and transparency of Chinese military affairs, U.S. concern should be allayed.

- No Exclusion of U.S. Influence: The United States is increasingly worried that China is curtailing U.S. influence in East Asia, as well as the whole of Asia, and is attempting to exclude the United States from the region altogether. It is an undeniable fact that China's influence is increasing in the region, but it is definitely not China's policy to exclude the United States.

The Chinese Government has explicitly stated that it welcomes the United States undertaking a positive and constructive role in regional security. China and the United States have worked well in multilateral forums such as the Six-Party Talks. China does not object to a U.S.-Japan alliance as long as it doesn’t intrude upon the sovereignty of other countries, and Beijing is willing to work with the United States to promote regional peace and stability.

Energy Competition Need Not Be a Problem: Energy is a new bone of contention for China and the United States. Many people in both countries realize that this can only be resolved through dialogue and cooperation, and the potential for Sino-U.S. cooperation in this regard is great indeed.

China's effort to achieve an energy-efficient society is of great importance in resolving this clash. As to the questions of sustaining peace and stability in oil-producing regions and maintaining smooth passage on maritime routes, there exist common interests.

Reducing Tension With Taiwan: Finally, the Taiwan question is very important to both sides across the Strait [Taiwan and China]. The reduction of tension across the Taiwan Strait is conducive to the steady development of Sino-American relations.

Should a framework for peaceful and steady development of the Sino-US. relations be formed, this will allow some more badly-needed time for China and the United States to increase their cooperation, resolve their differences and build mutual strategic trust.

Source: China Daily

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