US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton concluded her visit to China Wednesday. The two sides didn't reach any surprising breakthroughs, but this visit offers Asia-Pacific players a chance to think about Sino-US relations.
Having a solid understanding of the two powers is critical for the future of regional politics in the Asia-Pacific region.
Sino-US relations have hit a rough patch in recent times. The US "pivot to Asia" and "smart power diplomacy" have pushed the strategic mistrust between the two to an apex, leading to many pessimistic predictions. An implacable strategic rivalry between China and the US has seemingly begun.
There are also those within the regional political arena who seek to use diplomacy to reap the spoils of the conflict between the two.
Looking into Sino-US relations, we can find no specific incident in recent years that could fundamentally change the nature of strategic relations between China and the US. The two harbor more strategic suspicions toward each other, but both behave cautiously when taking concrete actions.
Trade between China and the US has been active in recent years. The Obama administration declined to submit to domestic pressure from some quarters and label China a currency manipulator.
Although there have been increasing economic frictions between the two, the overall atmosphere for cooperation remains.
The main reason for the stable relationship between the two is that it fits their actual interests. Meanwhile, as the power of the US is declining, it has less space and resources to manipulate this relationship at will.
It would be incredible if the US focused its national strength on East Asia and launched a bid for strategic containment of China. This would be costly and have no benefit for the US. Such a strategic choice would be one that the US could not bear.
It's vital for thinkers and strategists in East Asia to have a clear understanding of these aspects. The public in the Philippines and Japan have been striving to find any hint of support from the US.
But it's time for these countries to cool down. East Asian countries should take serious measures to solve their own problems. The Philippines and Japan wouldn't help the US at the loss of their own interests. Nor would the US if the situation was reversed.
The most important thing is that China is developing in a stable manner. It does not want the US to perish, nor does it want to dominate Asia.
China only wants to continue its development and solve its territorial disputes in a reasonable fashion with the relevant countries. A joint containment of China would lack a clear strategic goal, and there is no way it would work.