Crucial stage for strategic aims

Sino-US strategies should emphasize mutual assistance in Asia Pacific to ensure regional peace and prosperity

The Asia-Pacific strategy of the Barack Obama administration, which has been given top priority, is a result of the evolution of the United States’ global strategy and the development of the overall situation in the Asia-Pacific region. The strategy is not solely directed against China, however, during its implementation, its China focus has become prominent.

But overemphasizing the challenges posed by the US’ Asia-Pacific strategy to China will only complicate Sino-US relations further and bring about major systematic and strategic risks, such as strategic misjudgments, tardy progress in reshaping regional governance systems, and possibly even a showdown between the two powers.

The peaceful coexistence of the US and China in the region is the prerequisite for each to ensure the success of their Asia-Pacific strategies.

Seeking benign interaction with China in the Asia-Pacific region is essential for the US to push ahead with its global strategy and renew its global dominance. In the first decade of the 21st century, because of its fight against terrorism, the US did not effectively cope with the multiple challenges it faced in order of importance and urgency, and its preemptive style encountered criticism, resulting in suspicions about the legitimacy of its global leadership.

In the second decade of the 21st century, if the US, while carrying out its Asia-Pacific strategy, the most important part of its global strategy, overly focuses on China without awareness of the positive effects of China’s rise and fails to enlist China’s help, it will continue to make serious strategic mistakes.

It is also in China’s interests to conduct healthy interaction with the US in the Asia-Pacific region. After more than 30 years of reform and opening-up, China’s relations with the world are at a crucial stage. In this case, China’s diplomacy must avoid becoming the target of attack and violent fluctuations. If Sino-US relations deteriorate, China’s overall diplomacy will suffer. So, for China, to maintain stable and favorable bilateral relations, it should respect the US’ contributions to global order and global leadership and dispel the strategic suspicions between Beijing and Washington.

China and the US are the two leading forces in steering the direction of regional cooperation. It is the common responsibility of China and the US to control crises, ensure a stable situation and finally establish an open Asia-Pacific cooperation framework, which is inclusive of each party’s interests. Peaceful coexistence between China and the US will also benefit other countries in the Asia-Pacific region in the long run.

In order to realize peaceful coexistence in the Asia-Pacific region, China and the US should pool their efforts to come to grips with several major problems.

First, through dialogue, the two should make clear each other’s core interests and strategic bottom line, respect each other’s interests while carrying out their Asia-Pacific strategies, and try to find measures to control their major differences. The two countries can further expand common interests and cooperative space in terms of regional governance to eliminate a zero-sum mentality.

Second, besides using the existing platforms, including the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue, the G20, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation and the United Nations, for dialogue and cooperation, the two should try to create a transparent bilateral platform exclusively for dealing with emergencies in the Asia-Pacific region. Relations between the two navies should be given particular attention and a common code of conduct should be devised to prevent any escalation of maritime incidents.

Third, both should admit each other’s position and role in the Asia-Pacific region, and respect the reality and positive meaning of each other’s partnerships and alliances. Based on this, China and the US can seek win-win relations with other countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

President Hu Jintao’s successful visit to the US at the beginning of 2011 indicates that the Sino-US relationship is entering a new stage of deepening interdependence and high-level cooperation. The second decade of the 21st century is an important period for China and the US to reshape their bilateral relationship.

To forge a more broadminded strategic view and a new power relationship based on mutual benefit, mutual trust, win-win and multi-win results is a common task for China and the US and needs joint efforts from each.

The author is an associate research fellow with the Institute of American Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

By Wang Honggang

(China Daily 05/05/2011 page8)

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