By Li Hong, People's Daily Online
U.S. President Barrack Obama has defined China-USA relations as the most important, poised to shape the history of the 21st century. He probably gets it right. Nevertheless, we would not forget other members who are aboard the same boat, and we tend to believe that a broader consensus and join-hands endeavor of many will prove to be of more efficacy in tackling global challenges.
Delivering his first major policy outlines on China since his January inauguration, President Obama envisioned an era of "cooperation, not confrontation" for China-USA relationship, which ought to be "positive, constructive and comprehensive". By all means, his wisdom and vision in gauging and mandating future trends are awesome and closely chewed and esteemed here in China.
The huge gathering of Chinese and American government officials in Washington DC on Monday and Tuesday, for what is branded the first "China-U.S Strategic and Economic Dialogue", is unprecedented in scale. The institutionalized platform for the world's largest developed economy and largest developing economy to sit together and talk, to dispel disagreements and reach consensus, is itself a pivotal avenue to build up trust and mutual confidence in one another.
Obama remarked that the relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century, "which makes it as important as any bilateral relationship in the world". Truly, there are a dozen of complex and also difficult issues concerning the future of our peoples and our planet that call for urgent solutions: an early exit from a chilly economic recession, a new round of global environmental and trade talks, ways to stop terrorism and extremism, and persuading countries like Iran and D.P.R.K. to give up their nuclear ambitions.
Some have said that President Obama's comments on China were "effusive" --- speaking too highly of an emerging developing country --- something all his predecessors had refrained from saying. But, just take a look at the numbers: The two-way merchandize trade between the two, excluding services and finance, stood at US$63.5 billion in 1996, but by the end of 2008, merchandise trade had grown more than six-fold to US$408 billion. China held just US$66.4 billion in U.S. Treasury bonds in July 2000. However, in the latest reporting period, through May, that sum had exploded to US$801.5 billion .
And, the two countries are spending US$787 billion and US$586 billion of fiscal funds respectively to jumpstart their economies, and at the same time, ramming up the global economic engine.
After all, we all agree that a greener earth, plentiful jobs, expanding prosperity and wealth to be brought out by trade and innovations, long-lasting peace and sustainable growth are what the planet's 6.6 billion residents want. Yes, that reality must underpin a closer partnership between the United States and China, because that is the responsibility we bear. Say, in the immediate future, the two largest carbon-emitting countries have a responsibility to work for a new global climate treaty by December in Denmark.
Mutual assistance is always needed as genuine partners. In the past years, China has gained greatly in developing its own economy by moving huge goods shipments to the other rim of the Pacific. And President Obama acknowledged China's role in helping contain the effects of the US financial crisis. As Americans save more and Chinese spend more, America can put growth on a more sustainable foundation. And, because just as China has benefited from substantial investment and exports, China can also be an enormous market for American goods.
With very diverse political systems and different cultural backdrops, the two have chosen face-to-face talks to "get to know each other" and seek common grounds, which shall set an exemplary role for other countries in the world to resolve disputes.
"I have no illusion that the United States and China will agree on every issue, nor choose to see the world in the same way," Obama said, and he urged dialogue and candor. Out of that candor, Obama acknowledged wariness on both sides -- fears of a too-powerful China, or of America seeking to contain China's rise.
But, Obama told the big gathering that neither he nor President Hu Jintao sees things through the lens. We hope the annual dialogues will keep going, so that the two can open up their thoughts, or worries, exchange ideas, and seek common approaches. We sincerely hope that whenever a suspicion about the other's intentions comes up, it will be aired promptly, and discussed accordingly.
And, President Obama is welcome to visit Beijing later this year.