Quick View: Small steps of animosity or amity matter in China-U.S. ties

(Xinhua) 11:20, February 18, 2024

BEIJING, Feb. 17 (Xinhua) -- "An act of kindness, no matter how trivial, is worth performing, while an act of evil, no matter how small, must be shunned," an ancient Chinese adage advises.

That axiom was quoted by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi when he discussed China-U.S. relations with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Germany on the sidelines of this year's Munich Security Conference.

The words, first spoken by a dying Chinese emperor during the Three Kingdoms Period to warn his son and successor at his bedside, have been quoted for centuries to caution that plenty of small good deeds may add up to great deeds while multiple small evils can pile up to grave evils.

So, why did China's top diplomat invoke that proverb when meeting his U.S. counterpart?

The course of China-U.S. relations is determined not only by major policies of both governments, but also by a sequence of small actions, whether they are friendly and cooperative or hostile and confrontational, that build up to a major turning point leading to opposite directions.

While the grandiose gestures like igniting trade wars with China or morphing "de-risking" into "de-sinicization" grab headlines, it is the seemingly mundane maneuvers by the U.S. side that often slip under the radar, and may not cause much attention.

Take, for instance, the unjust harassment and interrogation of Chinese citizens at the U.S. border, a practice that might appear inconsequential in the grand tapestry of bilateral ties.

However, these seemingly trivial actions will incrementally chip away at the bedrock of bilateral relations, namely the exchanges and mutual understanding between the two nations.

And when such small events occur one after another, their effects of destruction would eventually multiply into irredeemable harm. Whereas if little steps of amity between Beijing and Washington can be taken continuously, they would ultimately foster positive atmosphere for the long-term development of the world's most consequential bilateral relationship.

Against all odds, the San Francisco summit between the two heads of state has charted the course for China-U.S. ties. Decision-makers should learn from those ancient wisdoms, and make the right choices. Remember, small steps do matter.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Zhong Wenxing)


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