On the evening of Nov. 10, a concert commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Philadelphia Orchestra’s visit to China was held at China’s National Center for the Performing Arts. As “Echoes of Ancient Tang Poems,” a fusion of Western and Chinese symphonic music, was sung, a spiritual bridge was built between the Chinese and American people, continuing a “musical friendship spanning half a century.”
From the past to the present day, there have been 1,000 reasons to make relations better between China and the U.S. and not a single reason to make them worse. As nongovernmental interactions have warmed up, official exchanges are also accelerating. Diplomatic consultations, maritime affairs discussions, climate change talks, arms control and nonproliferation negotiations, a new round of economic and trade conversations. … A series of recent exchanges and dialogue between China and the U.S. have signaled a positive stability in bilateral relations and laid the groundwork for the meeting next week in San Francisco between the leaders of both countries.
This is the first face-to-face meeting between the two heads of state since their meeting in Bali last year. They will have in-depth discussions on strategic, global and directional issues related to China-U.S. relations, as well as major matters affecting world peace and development. The world is expecting the San Francisco meeting of the Chinese and U.S. heads of state to focus on cooperation and achieve results.
This was a hard-won meeting, and the key was “returning to the Bali consensus.” The failure to implement the Bali consensus has been the reason for the difficulties in China-United States relations during the past year. U.S. leadership has adopted a wrong policy toward China out of a wrong perception of China. In the first part of the year, from staging a show over a “balloon” to condoning the “transit” of the leader of Taiwan, China, Tsai Ing-wen, to the United States, to implementing semiconductor export controls, a series of U.S. actions departed from the consensus between the two leaders, harmed Chinese interests and disrupted the China-U.S. dialogue process.
Since U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to China in June, the U.S. has taken a more conciliatory position toward China-U.S. relations. The United States should realize that containing and suppressing China is futile. Solving issues such as climate change, regional flashpoints and even U.S. economic recovery cannot be achieved without cooperation with China. After making a big detour, the U.S. had to return to the Bali consensus and its agenda.
The key to returning to the Bali consensus lies in concrete action. In this case, the Taiwan issue is at the core of China’s interests and is the foremost red line in China-U.S. relations. Recently, the U.S. once again affirmed its One-China policy and stated that it does not support “Taiwan independence.” Additionally, U.S. officials have repeatedly stated that they “do not seek to decouple” from China, and believe that economic decoupling between the U.S. and China would be “damaging to both the U.S. and China and destabilizing for the world.” These statements deserve attention but, more importantly, they need to be translated into action.
But at the same time, people have seen that the United States is still manipulating legislation related to the Taiwan issue, selling arms to Taiwan and suppressing China in the name of “national security.” Just last month, the U.S. Department of Commerce further tightened semiconductor export control rules on China and added 13 Chinese companies to the export control “entity list.” The United States should change its approach and faithfully implement the political commitments made by its leaders to China, without making a fuss or playing with fire.
The world also hopes that through the San Francisco meeting, China and the U.S. will further understand each other and recognize the significance of each other’s development for themselves. “The world is large enough for China and the United States to develop separately and prosper together.” In China’s view, the two countries should be partners, not rivals, and should pursue mutual benefits rather than zero-sum games. However, the U.S. wrongly views China as its “greatest strategic competitor,” and its policies toward China, whether the three-pointed “competition, cooperation and confrontation” approach or the “invest, align and compete” theory show unchanged hegemonic logic and zero-sum thinking.
But what about the reality? At the just-concluded 6th China International Import Expo, the U.S. federal government officially participated for the first time and more than 200 American companies exhibited, a record number. This fully shows that the interests of China and the United States are deeply intertwined, neither can do without the other or change the other, and neither has to replace the other. How should China be viewed? The U.S. should shift from a “consciousness-led” approach to a “pragmatic” one. As California Gov. Gavin Newsom said during his recent visit to China, “The more successful China is, the more successful we all will be be.”
At present, global economic recovery is weak, geopolitical conflicts have intensified and uncertainties and instabilities have increased. The combined economic output of China and the United States exceeds one-third of the world’s total, their total populations account for nearly one-quarter of the world, and bilateral trade accounts for about one-fifth of the world’s total. How China and the United States get along with each other determines the future and destiny of humanity. During the Bali meeting, Chinese President Xi Jinping emphasized that China-U.S. relations should be viewed and handled from the perspective of understanding the overall global situation. What is the general global trend? It is a shared expectation of peace and development by the international community, that bloc rivalries and group politics are unpopular and a dead end. People also hope that, through the San Francisco meeting, the leaders of China and the U.S will have in-depth communication on major issues of world peace and development, reassuring the world and benefiting the global community.
China has always viewed and developed China-U.S. relations on the basis of mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation. Over the past six months, President Xi has met with various people, including U.S. Secretary of State Blinken, Bill Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Gov. Newsom, among others. He has exchanged letters with friendly individuals from all walks of life in the U.S. and continued to spearhead the development of China-U.S. relations. Discussions such as “the ‘Thucydides Trap’* is not inevitable” and “the foundation of China-U.S. relations lies among the people, the hope is in the people, the future lies in the youth, and the vitality lies in sub-national areas” have resonated widely in both countries.
This meeting between the leaders of China and the U.S. in San Francisco further reflects China’s sincerity and its high degree of responsibility toward China-U.S. relations and world peace and development. It is hoped that the U.S. will break away from its stereotype of great powers in competition with each other and overcome the influence of domestic party disputes and the self-interest of politicians. Hopefully it will genuinely engage in a rational and pragmatic dialogue with China from the perspective of national interests, people’s interests and global responsibility, and manage the entire process well. Sincerity should meet sincerity, action should meet action. Whether China-U.S. relations can continue to “stabilize and improve” will need effort.
*Translator’s Note: When a rising power threatens to displace a ruling power, the stresses caused make violent clashes the rule, not the exception.