New relationship demands wisdom from Washington and Beijing
Global Times | 2013-12-27 0:18:01
By Global Times
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Edited by Sun Zhe, New Major Power Relationships: A Strategic Guideline for US-China Cooperations, Current Affairs Press, December 2013

Cultural exchanges and economic interdependence have increased significantly between China and the US. But the differences in social system and ideology and the structural contradictions between emerging powers and established powers still exist, which renders the Sino-US relationship among the most complex and influential in the world.

Against such a backdrop, whether competition or cooperation will prevail has become the key to regional and global peace and stability. 

During a state visit to Washington in 2011, then Chinese vice president Xi Jinping proposed to establish "a new type of relationship" between both countries. This concept was then used as the topic of the fourth US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in May 2012. New Major Power Relationships: A Strategic Guideline for US-China Cooperations, edited by Sun Zhe, professor at the Institute of International Studies under Tsinghua University, published in December 2013 by Current Affairs Press, further elaborates on this concept.

Traditional transition theory highly stresses the risks of war between established powers and emerging ones. The historical record of major power transitions is also plagued with episodes of wars and violence. Currently, among media, scholars and the public in the two countries, pessimism over Sino-US relations prevails. Thus, this book argues that as China rises, it's time to build a new type of major power relationship to break the spell.

The adjective "new" is used by the book to describe the relationship between China and other countries, so as to distinguish China's rise from the rising mode of traditional powers, such as Japanese imperial expansion before WWII.

To achieve this goal, the book holds that domestic politics in both sides should be focused on first because they are the background of competition and cooperation between China and the US.

Then, studies should attach importance to the strategic level, according to the book. The strategic and economic dialogue between China and the US has shown the political wisdom and diplomatic capability of the two in practice. This mechanism can be seen as a new answer to the old question of how emerging powers can communicate with established ones.

Due to the lack of historical experiences, the exploration of a new type of major power relationship is still on the way. In this case, the book suggests that China and the US can seek common ground between the Chinese dream and the American dream. Both dreams share the same goals of the improvement of people's livelihood, the progress of national economy and development of society. Many conflicts can be resolved by expanding common ground.

The history of the Sino-US relations has shown that significant changes in international situation can provide the opportunities to reshape the bilateral relationship. Whether both countries can seize the current opportunity and reshape the bilateral relationship toward a healthy direction still depends on the wisdom of leaderships and scholars from both sides.

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