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

By Alex Farley (People's Daily Online)    04:19, July 29, 2015

Facing the Next 35 Years

Objectively speaking, the difference in Sino-US relations 35 years ago and now is night and day. China’s economic scale has seen it grow from 12 percent of the US from 15 years ago to nearly 60 percent today. In fact, there’s a large chance it surpasses the US within the next ten years. China has not only assimilated into the international system, but has also put forth a new safety concept for Asia. This includes projects like the “One Belt, One Road,” or the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. The country has gone from being a follower in the international scene to one of its proactive leaders.

Moving forward into this type of future, the once successful “mutual understanding” is clearly inadequate in explaining the current reality. Yet it could prove useful in guiding a path into the future.

In order to shape a new understanding between the behemoth countries, each side needs to first decide their biggest issues and come up with a strategy.

For China, the most important decision is whether there exists another feasible path in development outside of the current international system. Can the current international structure handle China’s peaceful rise to the top, or will China hit a glass ceiling? Did the collapse of the Soviet Union, or Japan’s economic stagnation of the 90’s, root from an internal issue? Or were they precipitated by characteristics of the international setup, particularly a scheme from the country in control? Going forward, these questions need to form the base of China’s strategic direction in US relations.

For America, the most important strategic decision revolves around what type of stance to take facing China’s emergence. Will the US continue openness and admit China into the extant system, allowing it to emerge as a global superpower? Or will the US reject a country with such different ideologies and adopt a competitive attitude? Is holding back China, or promoting checks and balances, even feasible at this point? If the US really believes in the current international system of economic development, then it mustn’t fear the possibility of being a “second child” to China. It must accept that other countries may promote a different system of values and governance that best suit their society.

The two sides need to reach a series of real, concrete policies that prove they are undoubtedly ready to accept a new “mutual understanding.” This is nothing more than America allowing China breathing room in international politics, as well as China assuring America that it is willing to play by the rules of the current international system. China must show it has no intent of booting America out of Asia. Each side is responsible for ensuring the current system allows for effective cooperation and a mutually beneficial campaign towards joint leadership.

The debate as to how to go about governing Sino-US relations does not need to be negative. After the 2016 US election, the debate will only grow in importance. But it is important that the two sides abandon critique of the past, as they are useless in shaping a new mutual understanding moving forward. Not only does each country need more internal dialogue, but international industry should also form a piece of the debate. This way, a stable future is still very much a possibility. 


Click here to read part one: http://en.people.cn/n/2015/0729/c90000-8927698.html

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

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