Sino-US ties back on track after Tillerson visit

By Ng Yau Man David Source:Global Times Published: 2017/3/27 19:13:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has just concluded his first visit to Beijing since taking office early March. During his trip, Tillerson met Chinese President Xi Jinping and other senior officials.

Tillerson's trip is an indication that the Sino-US relationship has returned to normal and is expected to continue to grow.

The term "normal" implies that the US President Donald Trump's administration agreed to honor the one-China policy, which is regarded as the foundation for the diplomatic relations between China and the US, as well as between the former and any other countries. At this point, no exceptional case can be found.

China and the US are two different countries populated by different peoples. Naturally, there are some conflicts between the two, yet I am quite optimistic about the development of their bilateral relationship.

On his official trip, Tillerson agreed with his Chinese host on non-confrontation, non-conflict, mutual respect and win-win cooperation between the two countries.

It can be considered as a positive sign for the two countries to build a new relationship model featuring mutual respect and no confrontations.

Perhaps some Americans may worry about China's rise.

But geopolitically speaking, the two countries should not see each other as enemies or threats. In the future, if people were to revisit what happened today, I hope they may find it to be the start of friendship, not hostility.

Looking at the current process of the re-industrialization in the US, I don't think it is a threat to China. In the meantime, China's economic growth mainly relies on its own governance, such as the rise in its productivity and the trade-offs between income growth and distribution, and the global environment.

The recent events in the two countries indicate that a trade war between them will be avoidable in the coming months. Because the two countries are nearly equals as economic powerhouses, neither can benefit from a trade war. 

Yet, trade disputes may erupt between them. But any major conflict should be avoided.

There are some conflicting issues between China and the US.

The Taiwan question is a matter of China's internal affair which, however, is of great interest to the US. The reunification between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan is expected to take place within the next two decades. Washington should be aware of this irreversible trend.

Regarding North Korea' nuclear and missile programs, China and the US hold similar positions on some issues but have different tactics in dealing with them.

There is no nuclear country which is willing to give up its nuclear weapons. If the US were to disarm North Korea' nuclear weapons by military force, it would end in a disaster.

Besides, China is unwilling to interfere in North Korea's domestic affairs other than the implementation of the UN resolutions, such as economic sanctions mandated by the UN.

Finally, the THAAD deployment in South Korea could be in retaliation to the nuclear tests conducted by North Korea. But from the perspective of Beijing, the deployment of the missile defense system in the Korean Peninsula is a security threat to China.

Hence, the two powers should come to a more mutual understanding over this matter. At this stage, and after Tillerson's Asia trip, the issue has not yet been resolved.

During Tillerson's trip, the Chinese host and American visitor both showed their enthusiasm for enhancing the bilateral relationship, through maintaining top-level communications.

Keeping his "making America great again" promise and probably avoiding any embarrassment overseas, Trump has not been abroad after taking office. But he will soon attend the G20 conference in Munich and is planning to visit the UK.

Leaders of several countries have already paid their visits to the US and had talks with the new president.

It was reported that Xi and Trump both look forward to meeting each other.

I can imagine that if Trump visits China, he will not face any massive demonstrations and the Chinese will not embarrass their visitor.

The author is a commentator based in Hong Kong.


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