Since this year, American political and business leaders have been paying unexceptionally intensive visits to China, with almost all important officials handling China affairs set foot on the Chinese land. The just concluded visit by President George W. Bush created another climax which will be closely followed by the opening of the second round of strategic talks between the two countries. The frequent interaction highlights the basic fact that the strategic importance of Sino-US ties keeps rising.
The fact is firstly a result of delicate yet profound changes in the background of bilateral ties. In American strategic vista, the "China question" is turning into the "rising China question", upon which a hot debate is folding out in the United States. What worth attention is that Deputy Secretary of State Robert B. Zoellick in his Remarks to National Committee on U.S.-China Relations expressed the hope that China would be "working with us to shape the future international system" and share risks and responsibilities. Such a comparatively pragmatic attitude towards China is further intensified by US recognition of its terror fight as a long-term task. On the other hand, China, during its course of peaceful development, has been more active and confident in seeking harmony and cooperation based on mutual benefit with the United States.
Secondly, the Sino-US relations is cruising ahead in both range and quality. Viewed from its scope, it has gradually expanded from political, economic, military and cultural areas as in the past to the fields of strategic security, global concern and non-traditional security. While engaged in strategic talks, the two countries also carried out cooperation in such spheres as anti-terror and prevention of bird flu, and the ties between the two militaries also recovered and advanced. This has shown that more and more blank spots in the relations are being covered.
On the other hand, along with the deepening of economic and trade ties, both sides are trying their best to avoid serious economic and political outcomes brought by escalated trade frictions, and managing to resolve disputes through consultations. President Bush once put it frankly: some Americans worry about China's economic development, but I don't. In the eyes of Washington, China's economic advancement is "also an opportunity for the United States".
Viewed from the depth of the relations, China-US exchanges and cooperation are being institutionalized. Washington is paying more and more attention to in-depth topics such as China's economic and judicial system, while Beijing's attention is also traversing from the federal government and officials to the congress, localities and common people. Particularly important, it is in the interest of both sides that we oppose and contain "Taiwan independence" and safeguard peace and stability across the Straits.
The strategic significance of China-US relations has another facet, that is, its bearing on the world pattern. Former US president George Bush pointed out at the CHINA-U.S. RELATIONS Trade, Diplomacy and Research that Sino-US ties has become one of "the most important bilateral ties" in today's world. President Hu Jintao, during his talks with the current president George W. Bush, also stressed that the relations have gone far beyond the bilateral scope and is increasingly assuming a global meaning. Indeed, the China-US relations is not only crucial to the well being of the two peoples, but holding a bigger and bigger sway over the change of world strategic pattern. This profound historical shift has displayed itself in the sophisticated ebb of flow in international relations in recent years. Both Chinese and American sides believe they hold common interests and shoulder common responsibility in a wide range of global issues--the UN reform, the question of development, Doha round, regional hot issues, prevention and fight against terror, prevention WMD proliferation, prevention of natural disasters, control of epidemic diseases and so on.
The rising strategic significance of the relations sets higher demands on both countries. For America, it's a test to the wisdom of high-level policy makers whether the country can truly accept China's peaceful development and consider in a pragmatic manner the peaceful co-existence with China. For China, whether it can ensure, from a strategic perspective, long-term and stable relations with the US has an important bearing on a stable external environment only under which can China reach its goal to build a well-off society in an all round way.
The article by Yuan Peng, research fellow on American studies with China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, is carried on the third page of People's Daily, November 22, and is translated by People's Daily Online