US Must Take Practical Action To Fulfill China-US Heads of State Meeting Consensus






The San Francisco meeting between the Chinese and American heads of state has stabilized the relationship between the two countries; indeed, China has always been willing to coexist with the United States in mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation. But whether relations between the two can improve following such stabilization depends on the U.S.

Prior to the Russia-Ukraine conflict in February 2022, the Biden administration maintained Donald Trump’s policy of containing, encircling and suppressing China across the board. Once the Russia-Ukraine conflict broke out, the U.S. was forced to use the bulk of its power in dealing with Russia and attempting to ensure China’s neutrality vis-à-vis the conflict while insisting that China was the United States’ main adversary.

On Nov. 14, 2022, President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden met in person in Bali, Indonesia for the first time since Biden took office. At the time, President Xi clearly told the U.S. that “China-U.S. relations should not be a zero-sum game where one side out-competes or thrives at the expense of the other. Chinese and American successes are opportunities not challenges for each other. The world is big enough for the two countries to develop individually and prosper together. The two sides should form a correct perception of each other’s domestic and foreign policies and strategic intentions. China-U.S. interactions should be defined by dialogue and win-win cooperation, not confrontation and zero-sum competition.”

Relations between the 2 Countries Should Not Be a Zero-Sum Game

On the one hand, China is hoping that the world’s first and second-largest economies will explore a new form of great power relationship in the 21st century; on the other hand, China understands that the U.S. is unable to give up its hegemonic ideology, style and behavior. As a result, China has been at pains to develop its relationships with Central Asian and Middle Eastern countries. In 2023, it pushed to restore diplomatic ties between Iran and Saudi Arabia, and it also promoted increasing BRICS member states from five to 11, with the addition of Egypt, Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all of which are located in the Middle East.

China’s goals in its relations with the U.S. are unequivocal: the world is big enough for the two countries to develop individually and prosper together. Similarly, China’s overall plan in handling its relationship with the U.S. is clear. It seeks to take the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and BRICS cooperation mechanisms as its strategic support and strategic depth, while rallying with Association of Southeast Asian Nations; and at the same time, make many true friends in Africa and Latin America, while winning over countries in Europe and Oceania that may not be leaning — or not leaning completely — toward the U.S.

On Oct. 7, a new round of conflict broke out between Palestinians and Israelis, which to a certain extent had an impact on China’s established Middle East strategy. China’s top leadership assessed the situation and made clear that it stood with the Palestinian people and Arab countries.

This renewed Palestinian-Israeli conflict runs counter to America’s established Middle East strategy, but the Biden administration has made an epic blunder with strategic adjustments in that the U.S. has become the only country that fully supports Israel. Contrary to the Biden administration’s use of the Russia-Ukraine conflict to successfully hold the West in its thrall, its full-throated support for Israel is antagonizing not just the Palestinians, but Arab and Islamic countries too, while sowing division in the Western camp.

On Oct. 27, an emergency special session of the U.N. General Assembly voted on a resolution drafted by the Arab nations and co-sponsored by China on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Among the members of the Group of Seven, only the U.S. voted against the resolution; France voted in favor, and the remaining five countries abstained from the vote.

The U.S. is deeply embroiled in the Ukraine crisis and unable to extricate itself, and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is causing it even more difficulty at home and abroad, so how much energy does it have left to contain, encircle and suppress China?

Against this backdrop, the U.S. invited the Chinese president to meet in San Francisco. What is the United States’ motive? What are its objectives?

Chinese and American Successes Are Opportunities for Each Other

At a White House National Security Council briefing on Nov. 10, senior U.S. officials acknowledged that China would continue to play an important role in the international arena for a long time to come, so the U.S. and China needed to use diplomacy to dispel misunderstandings. On the question of whether the meeting between the two heads of state would produce deliverables,” a senior U.S. official said that the U.S.-China relationship was not the relationship of five or 10 years ago, and that the goals were now “about managing the competition, preventing the downside of risk of conflict and ensuring channels of communication are open.” Evidently, the U.S. is pursuing its goals while it nonetheless understands that China cannot be overpowered.

At the San Francisco meeting, President Xi indicated that “the world today is undergoing major changes unseen in a century, and China and the United States have two options: One is to strengthen solidarity and cooperation, work together to address global challenges, and promote global security and prosperity. The other is to adopt a zero-sum mentality, provoke conflict between camps and lead the world to turmoil and division. The choices represent two directions that will determine the future of mankind and the future of the planet.

“As the most important bilateral relationship in the world, Chinese-U.S. relations must be considered and planned within this broader context. It is impossible for China and the U.S. not to interact and engage with each other. It is unrealistic for one side to change the other, and conflict and confrontation will have unbearable consequences for both sides. Major power competition cannot solve the problems facing China, the U.S., and the world. This earth can accommodate both China and the U.S., and one country’s success is an opportunity for the other.”

President Xi’s two choices for China and the U.S. reflects the historic decision the two countries need to make about their relationship. How the U.S. decides is not a matter of what it says, but rather a question of whether it makes good on the idea that “the world is big enough for the two countries … The successes of China and the United States are opportunities, not challenges, for each other.”

The author is a senior commentator for Ta Kung Pao.

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About Matthew McKay 110 Articles
Matthew is a British citizen who grew up and is based in Switzerland. He received his honors degree in Chinese Studies from the University of Oxford and, after 15 years in the private sector, went on to earn an MA in Chinese Languages, Literature and Civilization from the University of Geneva. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Linguists and an associate of both the UK's Institute of Translation and Interpreting and the Swiss Association of Translation, Terminology and Interpreting. Apart from Switzerland, he has lived in the UK, Taiwan and Germany, and his translation specialties include arts & culture, international cooperation, and neurodivergence.

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