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OP-ED: Can China and the U.S. Rebuild 'Mutual Understanding?' (Part One)

By Alex Farley (People's Daily Online)    03:55, July 29, 2015

Chinese President Xi Jinping is scheduled to pay an official state visit to the United Sates in September. While both sides are preparing, there exists an undeniable level of tension. Several issues such as the South China Sea and internet security remains locked in an intense game of chess. Since this spring, the US administration has been vaguely involved in a debate on its China strategy. A few American scholars have called for the current American government to review its Sino-US relation strategies implemented during the eight US presidents since 1970.

Looking back, not only this year, but the last five or six years of Sino-US relations have fluctuated between mediocre and bad. While a level of competition continues to grow, the issue lies within the strategic direction and intention of each side. Their relationship is moving toward a negative direction. The broad mutual understanding vital throughout the previous three decades is heading towards a collapse. The key to a stable future lay within rebuilding and redefining a broad common understanding in Sino-US relations.

In rebuilding this bridge, both counties must ask themselves: what type of country do we want to become, and what measures are we prepared to ensure that comes to fruition? What type of country does each side want the other to become? And ultimately, how do the sides go about the next 35 years in international relations?

In 2013, the 18th Session of the Third Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party was held in Beijing. They divided 70 years of US-China relations into two sections: the previous 35 years, and the upcoming 35 years


The Eighth Session of the Third Plenum of the Chinese Communist Party was held in Beijing in 2013.

Over the previous 35 years, America’s strategy towards China primarily is “Engagement “ , that is to bring China into its international system by establishing closer government, military and social cooperation. America stood to benefit from the economic partnership. However, the US also hoped to bring China’s political system in line with that of the West. In other words, they wanted China to become a supporter and an ally.

In accordance with the open-door policy introduced in the late 70’s, China attempted to assimilate itself into the international scene. They accepted many international guidelines pertaining to economic and social governance. But at the same time, the Chinese government maintained the four principles brought by Deng Xiaoping. These are known formally as the Four Cardinal Principles.

After 1978, China and America began a stage of blending with and pulling away. America wanted to mold China; China wanted to maintain certain characteristics. It’s on this point that a stark contrast of opinion over any type of final objective still exists. Originally, integrating China into the international system took precedence over everything, giving base to a mutual understanding. And it was through this mutual understanding that they overcame issues in the Taiwan Strait, after the bombing in Belgrade, and after air collision over Hainan. 


Click here to read part two: http://en.people.cn/n/2015/0729/c90000-8927699.html

Click here to read part three: http://en.people.cn/n/2015/0729/c90000-8927701.html


(This article was translated and edited from 《达巍:中美还能重建“大共识”吗?》. http://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_1357483     Arthur: Da Wei, Director of America Study Center at China Institute of Contemporary International Relations)

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Tian Li,Zhang Qian)

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