BEIJING, April 17 -- "Stakeholder" and "hedging," the two concepts brought
out by US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick in a keynote speech on
US-China relations in Washington on September 21 last year, were included in the
Quadrennial Defence Review released in February and the National Security
Strategy Report published in March.
The official adoption of these two words indicates
the US Government is putting finishing touches on its new China strategy. Like a
coin with two sides, the new strategy, on the one hand, expects China to be a
"responsible stakeholder" and will see to it that America accepts and integrates
China as such into its global agenda, while, on the other hand, making sure
China's rise will not challenge its global and regional interests.
Within this general framework, the political
relations between China and the United States have made noticeable headway.
First of all, the two heads of state have met several
times, helping keep the strategic relations between the two countries stable.
Although Chinese President Hu Jintao's official US
visit was postponed due to Hurricane Katrina, their other meetings all went
through as scheduled without a hitch. For instance, their brief informal meeting
last September in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations 60th
anniversary summit went very well.
When President Hu makes his first official visit to
the United States this week since becoming the top State leader, the whole world
will be watching intently this important event of international politics. There
is no doubt the two heads of state will hammer out the strategic framework for
further development of a healthy and peaceful bilateral relationship between
China and the United States.
Second, strategic dialogue is going deeper. Compared
to the first round, the second round of strategic dialogue, held on December 7-8
in Washington, began cutting into the strategic issues both sides are most
concerned about, covering topics from the definition of the term "stakeholder"
to how both sides should accept each other's presence in the Asia-Pacific
region. They discussed almost everything of interest in their bilateral
This kind of candid and open style of dialogue played
an irreplaceable role in nurturing mutual trust and dissolving suspicion between
the two countries. The fact that China and the United States can conduct such
regular dialogues shows their bilateral ties are maturing.
Third, exchanges between the military of both
countries are back on track. US Secretary of Defence Donald Rumsfeld said upon
concluding his three-day China visit on October 20, that he had learned a lot
and had been deeply impressed by what he had seen on that visit. His view on
China's quickening pace in defence modernization also changed from "not
understandable" to "understandable" after his China visit, though he insisted
the host had a long way to go towards military transparency.
Finally, broad exchanges between the two nations in
other areas are also under way. Among such exchanges, the most eye-catching is
the Chinese Culture Month held in Washington last October with great fanfare.
Looking the other way, many US members of Congress
have visited China in a series of delegations in recent months, marking another
highlight in the development of Sino-US ties. Some of those American legislators
admitted they knew little about China before joining tours, which were the very
first for quite a few of them. Their visits would help reinforce the foundation
of China-US relations.
All the above, however, cannot replace the negative
side of bilateral relations, parts of which are in fact growing. Of the negative
developments, none is more prominent than the trade disputes, which are really
caused by "unequal" political relations rather than by trade "disparity." The
fact that the United States has consistently allowed its domestic politics, its
ideological prejudice against China, its own idea of values and the deep-set
political desire to dominate international affairs to supersede fairness is what
prevents a speedy solution to the trade frictions.
Meanwhile, the same inequality is also fomenting on
such issues as human rights and religious freedom.
Then there is the Taiwan question, which has become a
key focus in China-US relations again following the subtle manoeuvring by the
United States, Chinese mainland and Taiwan over Chen Shui-bian's nullification
of Taiwan's National Unification Guideline.
What will become of the China-US relationship? Is
there more room for its development? We can certainly expect a clearer answer to
each of the questions during President Hu's upcoming US visit.
Any further and substantial progress of bilateral
ties from now on requires forward-looking political wisdom based on critical
analysis of the past, which would enable both sides to explore new areas and
deeper space for co-operation. The following four areas of co-operation should
point out the direction for both sides.
By this I mean the kind of co-operation that goes
beyond specific affairs and the realm of bilateral ties, the kind that demands
communication over major international issues of far-reaching significance and
mutual interest and eventually leads to teamwork.
For this the first thing the two countries need to do
is to establish co-existence, mutual acceptance and mutual prosperity on the
stage that both are developing on the Asia-Pacific region. China is an
Asia-Pacific nation, while the United States has major strategic interests in
the region. It has become an unavoidable issue as to how the two countries
should prevent future stand-offs as a result of China's development.
Co-operation on energy resources
The United States and China are the top two consumers
of energy resources in the world and are thus bound to co-operate in this area.
Such co-operation includes mutual study and absorption of each other's energy
policies, co-operation in related technology, including nuclear energy, and
co-operation in energy strategy. If the two countries succeed in such
co-operation, it would not only enhance strategic mutual trust between them but
also contribute positively to global energy assurance and security.
Co-operation in unconventional areas.
The characteristics of the new millennium are
speeding up the substitution of conventional security challenges by
unconventional ones as one of the most urgent issues facing the world today.
Co-operation on such security issues not only suits the characteristics of our
times, but also enjoys the bonus of less restraints by ideological and political
concerns. Such co-operation has so much room for development that, if well
managed, it would serve as a new cornerstone for the lasting and steady
development of Sino-US relations.
(Source: China Daily)