The US-China Leader Summit: Calling for Responsible Superpowers

Deepening dialogue and building a cooperative partnership between the United States and China – the number one and two world economic powers – is crucial to the stability of the Asia-Pacific region. However, these expectations, which were raised during last November’s U.S.-China summit, have yet to be met. This is due to the fact that although the two nations agreed to work together on such issues as economic and global warming policy, conflict over issues such as the South China Sea and human rights has blocked progress.

The two nations’ differing positions are often thrown into stark relief, but both sides most likely want to avoid a deliberate confrontation. This paper wants both sides to continue their dialogue and particularly wants China to exhibit responsible behavior, becoming of a world superpower.

In recent talks, a focal point has been the issue of China’s land reclamation in the South China Sea. On the South China Sea issue, President Barack Obama said there were “significant concerns,” but President Xi Jinping did not yield on China’s position, instead stating, “[China has] the right to uphold our own territorial sovereignty and lawful and legitimate… interests.” However, China’s unilateral conduct does threaten neighboring countries, upsetting the international order.

Also in the meeting, the two countries agreed on measures for avoiding accidental collisions between military aircraft, with the skies above the South China Sea in mind. Tensions are running high for various reasons, including U.S. declarations to sail U.S. ships and troops through waters China claims as be Chinese “territory.” We hope the measures are carried out faithfully.

On the issue of cyberattacks, which are resulting in stronger criticism from the U.S. against China, the two sides agreed to stop the theft of industrial secrets, to continue secretary-level meetings and to cooperate on investigations and the exchange of information about cybercrime. However, the Chinese side denied playing any part in cyberattacks and did not move beyond its position of also being a “victim.” If the promises made regarding cybersecurity are not fulfilled, and any new talks end up being a stall tactic by China to evade economic sanctions, the result will be an erosion of trust in the international system.

On the other hand, a cooperative stance was noticeable as Xi denied any further devaluation of the yuan. This is important considering conflict between the U.S. and China can have global economic repercussions. In the area of global warming, Obama announced a plan to greatly reduce CO2 emissions from power plants in the U.S., which will begin with a national cap-and-trade system on carbon emissions in 2017. These are examples of the talks’ few successes.

The Chinese side described Xi’s visit to the U.S. as a trip to “build confidence and dispel doubts.” However, behind China’s claim that the country would “never seek hegemony,” several acts are strengthening distrust against China, such as the attempted legitimization of reclamation projects and a frenzied expansion of military might. This paper seeks Chinese conduct that is worthy of trust.

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