Chinese President Xi Jinping and his American counterpart Barack Obama are scheduled to meet this afternoon, local time. This meeting has already drawn unprecedented attention around the world. It represents not only a conversation in which both leaders can exchange ideas on important global issues, but also puts forward a glimpse of what China's future might look like when it catches up with the US.
China is approaching the US in terms of national strength. This will also be among the most significant factors that impact international politics in the future. The question of whether the two countries will step out of the box and create a new era of peaceful competition instead of tragic confrontation has become a major test for both countries and even the rest of the world.
First, public opinion in the US, even around the globe, is getting used to China's rise in power. This inevitable trend, which has been foreseen by many people around the world, is also starting to not be seen by so many Western people as "dreadful."
Second, most Western countries are not happy that China is catching up with the US, but they disagree with the idea of following the US to contain China at all costs. Peace is what most people are expecting, so taking the high risk of confronting China goes against their will.
Third, the Chinese people are looking forward to China's peaceful rise. Challenging the US or staging a cold war with it is not what they envision. What they are expecting is a long-term Sino-American relationship where peaceful competition and cooperation coexist.
The forthcoming years are crucial to this process, which hopefully will lead to irreversible stability.
Both Chinese and American leaders have the power to direct the future of world political civilization. They are carrying the hopes of turning a new leaf in international politics, ending zero-sum games among major powers.
But problems still exist, some of which, if not handled well, could reverse current positive trends. There are many uncertainties in the Sino-American relationship, and some saboteurs willing to pursue their own interests at the cost of healthy Sino-American ties.
China and the US, on the one hand, should try their best to expand strategic mutual trust, and on the other hand, should establish mechanisms to reduce suspicions against each other in case frictions are exaggerated. It might be hard to establish mutual trust overnight, but both sides are capable of doing this. This will also help both countries to form a positive cycle in which negotiation and cooperation prevail.
At the moment, the "nature" of the Sino-American relationship can be interpreted in many ways, most of which make sense. But this relationship is far from stable. The personal influence of both leaders will play an important role in molding Sino-American ties.
This meeting will have a packed agenda, but what can really be taken away from this meeting is the influence it will have on the Sino-American relationship. It will hopefully stand out as a milestone in the new relationship between both countries.