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Expert: continuity and optimism for US-China relations
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16:35, April 22, 2009

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The Obama administration will continue, rather than change, the US diplomatic policy toward China and there are enough reasons for optimism despite problems ahead.

Professor Jin Canrong, Associate Dean of School of International Studies of Renmin University, expressed his idea about Sino-US relations in a recent video interview with People's Daily Online.

He has noticed that most Americans recognized that G. W. Bush's policy toward China was rather successful although they did not like Bush's foreign policy and domestic economic policy. "So it is just natural to inherit this policy," said Jin.

However, the two countries have to deal with three major problems in their bilateral relations, according to Prof. Jin. The first is the policy disputes on trade, Tibet, arms control and climate change.

The second is the policy fluctuation on the US side. There are a lot of congressmen who take very critical attitudes toward China and uniform people who do not want to see economic issues dominate relations.

The third is the so-called "perception gap". People outside China tend to regard China as a big, fast-growing country with a lot of resources. The US, for example, wants China to take more responsibilities on international affairs. The US is the first country to put forward the concept of "shareholder" to define China's role in the world arena.

In China, however, its people view their own country as a developing country with many internal issues to be addressed. They require their leaders to concentrate their attention and resources on challenges within the country.

The only way forward for the government in this somewhat awkward situation, said Jin, is to communicate well both with the international community, including the US, which has a very high expectation for China's responsibilities, and the Chinese people, who are not ready to meet that expectation.

But there are much more reasons for confidence in Sino-US relations.

The most important reason is that top leaders of both countries put the bilateral relations on top priority of their foreign policy agenda.

Secondly, common interests of the two countries are expanding. The typical example is the current financial crisis which needs international cooperation especially cooperation between China and the US as the two major economies in the world.

Thirdly, there is a very comprehensive communication system between China and the US. So far 63 dialogue channels at the deputy ministerial level or above have been established. That means any issue in any field can have a channel where communications and negotiations can be made.

Fourthly, the Taiwan issue, which remains the most sensitive in Sino-US relations, has become more controllable and manageable.

Fifthly, the gap of strength between China and the US has narrowed. In 2001, China's GDP was just one-tenth of that of the US. In 2008, China's GDP reached 4.3 trillion USD and the US GDP stood at 14.2 trillion USD.

Last but not least, although many Americans still regard China as a potential competitor or challenger, they find that China stays at the very bottom of the problem list and more importantly, China is always part of the solution when the US wants to solve international issues.

"Generally speaking, the framework of Sino-US relations is rather stable," he concluded.

By People's Daily Online

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