n April 6 and 7, Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump met for the first time at Mar-a-Lago, Florida. Interviewed by NewsChina, Su Ge, president of the China Institute of International Studies, said that the Sino-US relationship affects the whole world, and that the meeting sent a positive signal about the relationship’s future direction.
NewsChina: The Trump administration has yet to fully develop its China policy, so will the Trump-Xi meeting affect the administration’s China policy and even its overall policy towards Asia?
Su Ge: The Sino-US relationship is not just a bilateral one, but one which affects the entire world. With its strength relatively declining in the global balance of power, America becomes less self-assured, and has thus changed from a traditional “constant” into a “variable” in the international pattern. China is catching up in terms of national strength, facilitating a turn in the strategic situation.
This means that their strategic competition is bound to increase, but in the meantime both sides have no intention of engaging in conflict or confrontation. The meeting signaled that they are willing to control differences and expand cooperation.
China, for its part, should have strategic patience. As a result of increased national strength and all-round diplomacy, it sees its ability to shape the Sino-US relations growing.
NC: As of September 2015, nearly 100 mechanisms for dialogue had been established between China and the US. It was mentioned at the meeting that the two countries should make full use of four newly established high-level dialogue mechanisms, including a diplomatic security dialogue and comprehensive economic dialogue. Does this mean that the existing dialogue mechanisms have been redesigned?
SG: After over 40 years of developing diplomatic ties, China and the US have developed many important platforms for exchange.
Looking into the future, the Trump-Xi meeting will determine the overall direction of Sino-US exchanges. The high-level, strategic contact in the four fields, as reflected by the four dialogue mechanisms, are also four critical platforms for the future. Under them, the two sides will carry out exchange at all lower levels.
The two countries should strengthen communication. Only in this way can they better understand each other and determine the general direction of cooperation. When a difference arises, they can, through communication, pinpoint its source and work to control it. More importantly, they can enhance strategic mutual trust and have more chances for cooperation through such exchanges.
NC: This year marks a turn in the Sino-US relationship, bringing about challenges as well as opportunities. So what’s your take on the relationship’s future direction?
SG: I think generally the two sides will seek progress in the relationship amidst stability.
As both are permanent members of the UN Security Council, China and the US share a significant and particular responsibility for regional and international peace, security and prosperity. China is willing to work with the US to meet varied global challenges and strengthen communication and cooperation on regional hot-spot issues. Both should play a constructive role in maintaining Asia-Pacific’s peace, stability and prosperity.
Given largely different national conditions, the two countries should view each other’s strategic intentions rationally and respect each other’s core interests and major concerns. This is a significant prerequisite for the bilateral ties’ sound development. In international affairs, China advocates that a human community with a common future be built by following an open, inclusive road of win-win cooperation. A peacefully rising China shouldn’t be seen as a threat to America. The zero-sum games and cold-war mentality should be abandoned. We hope America can welcome China’s development with an accommodating mind and find opportunities for cooperation.
Divergences between the two countries are inevitable, due to their different national conditions. They should seek common ground, draft long-term strategies, and never shake up the basis of the bilateral relationship because of a single incident. When they have conflicts of interest, they should try to resolve them through equal-footed consultation and negotiation. Even with the structurally irreconcilable conflicts, they must try to control them and prevent “misfiring.” Seeking progress and win-win cooperation while maintaining stability is in the fundamental interests of China and the US.
“With effective cooperation, China and the US can fundamentally safeguard the world’s stability and peace,” said President Xi Jinping. The successful and fruitful Mar-a-Lago summit has instilled a much-needed certainty in the future direction of the Sino-US relationship, as well as providing long-anticipated positive energy for the development of the international order.