Illustration: Liu Rui/GT
The sixth meeting of the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue is convened on Wednesday in Beijing, co-hosted by US Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi.
There are roughly 60 topics of mutual concerns being discussed during the two-day meeting. Such a wide coverage has enveloped most hotspot issues around the world. In this meeting, global political and security matters involving South Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq will be discussed.
Nuclear issues concerning Iran and North Korea will also be a major topic. Besides, economic topics including the exchange rate of yuan, a bilateral investment treaty (BIT) and Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone as well as controversial issues such as the East China Sea and the South China Sea disputes and cyber security will also be on their agenda.
It is probable that both sides will make the BIT talk one of their central subjects. There have been 13 rounds of negotiations on this issue since 2008, and in the last session of the dialogue, a major step forward has been made with both sides having agreed to start the substantive discussions of the treaty. It is expected that more detailed progress will be made at this year's session.
Another focus of this meeting will be put on the exchange rate of yuan. Earlier this month, Lew said the yuan is still undervalued. He also reiterated the US push for China to allow the currency to trade at a market-oriented foreign exchange rate, which in other words is the appreciation of yuan. In fact, the Chinese currency has appreciated 14 percent since 2010, and such a gradual process suits China better than a giant leap forward. Debates on this issue between both sides will be unavoidable.
Besides the above two issues, plenty of long-standing sore points which are closely related to geopolitics and regional security, such as the disputes between China and its neighbors, will trigger more arguments. All these issues are nothing new, but are relevant to China's rise.
The international community keeps watching over China and seeing if it fulfills its promise to rise peacefully. However, another perspective must be introduced to enlighten these observers, focusing on whether the US has a broad vision to face China's peaceful rise.
This US-vs-China game in the Asia-Pacific region was triggered by Washington's rebalancing to Asia strategy. Concerned about China as a rising power, the US keeps fostering offshore balancers to contain China's growth. This strategy imposes great pressures over China in the spheres of both traditional and non-traditional security.
The overflow of China's rise, such as an expanding influence, makes inevitable the game between China and the US. But unlike the situation many Western media has depicted, such as in Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan, China is not sabotaging the regional order of the Asia-Pacific region.
On the contrary, China's rise will lead to optimization of this order. But the US keeps blocking the way for the improvement of the regional order, and it is time for Washington to broaden its vision and employ a more practical and tolerant approach to China's rise. This attitude change will be key to exploring a new type of major power relationship.
Whether both nations can go further in this exploration depends on whether a resilient and responsive mechanism of mutual trust can be established. Both sides must try their best to seek common ground instead of frictions and antagonism.
Asia needs to cultivate a new security concept, accepting China's role change from a participant to a builder in the endeavor of sustaining regional security. China is willing to unleash positive and constructive power to benefit the Asia-Pacific region and even the whole world, and the US must be the first to embrace it.
The author is an assistant research fellow with the Research Centre on China and International Relations, University of International Relations, and research fellow at Charhar Institute. firstname.lastname@example.org