Trump’s upcoming visit can boost Sino-US relationship to higher level

By Li Haidong Source:Global Times Published: 2017/10/25 19:48:39

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

As US President Donald Trump will visit China from November 8 to 10, the reality and the future of the Sino-US relationship is once again a focus. Relations between China and the US remain unchanged in four aspects.

Firstly, economics remains the ballast of bilateral relations. As the two most important economies in the world, China and the US have been cooperative and deepened their trade relations. They are both the second-largest trading partner to each other and bilateral trade exceeds $500 billion, with broad cooperation expected in investment and finance. Their close economic interactions are key to the economic stability and revival of themselves and the world.

Secondly, Beijing and Washington still take into consideration core interests of each other. The US honors the One China policy when it comes to the Taiwan question. China is willing to see the US playing a constructive role and involved in Asia-Pacific issues. Regarding the nuclear crisis in the Korean Peninsula which is top on the security agenda of Asia for the Trump administration, Beijing and Washington maintain effective coordination and cooperation in multilateral institutions like the UN.

Thirdly, the two nations' leaders maintain strong leadership of bilateral relations. Despite varied voices from within both sides' camps, the leaders are always determined and decisive in overcoming obstacles to the stability of bilateral relations. Since Trump took office 10 months ago, he has transformed from green to skilled in comprehending China and dealing with Sino-US relations, and has basically formed constructive conceptions of China. The two leaders have maintained active communication quite similar to the former.

Lastly, China and the US still have multiple channels to solve and manage issues through pragmatic cooperation. They have consolidated and expanded effective bilateral communications at different stages of development. This year Chinese President Xi Jinping and Trump took full advantage of the four high-level dialogue mechanisms: diplomacy and security, comprehensive economics, law enforcement and cyber-security as well as social and people-to-people dialogues. They established the framework for comprehension and solutions for the relationship, guiding departments to hold the right direction, expand common views, control divergences and strengthen cooperation in their specific work.

Although overall Sino-US relations are stable, there are still problems between the two sides over freedom of navigation, trade protectionism, the renminbi exchange rate, Taiwan question and religion. Yet the biggest challenge now and in the near future is how to deal with China's certain diplomacy with the US and the US' uncertainty in its diplomacy with China. China's diplomacy to the US has always been implemented with the notion of a community of a shared destiny to create a future of mutual respect, win-win cooperation and common prosperity. Chinese leaders' strong governance makes us believe in the effectiveness and continuity of diplomacy toward the US.

However, US diplomacy toward China is still obsessed with the so-called Thucydides Trap. The growth of China's strength causes US anxiety. There are still some voices in the US policy community about being on their guard against China and making encirclements. Trump is in a politically weak position, suffering disruption involving the media, Congress and vested interest groups. It makes Chinese worry about whether the US can maintain a consistent policy when cooperating with China.

But although Trump holds an optimistic and constructive stance, his China policy will vacillate depending on domestic factors. It can be said that contradictions will be highlighted between the two countries' diplomacy toward each other. Problems need to be settled cautiously to avoid events that harm relations.

Though some problems remain unsettled, the foundation for the development of Sino-US relations is stable. The four unchanged factors in Sino-US relations have gradually emerged in Trump's diplomacy to China. Due to this, we expect Trump's visit can advance relations to a new level.

The author is a professor with the Institute of International Relations at China Foreign Affairs University.

Posted in: VIEWPOINT

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