US congressional delegation should seize the chance to attentively listen to the Chinese side
Published: Oct 08, 2023 02:35 PM
US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (center) and other members of the bipartisan delegation arrive at Shanghai Pudong International Airport to kick off their China visit on Saturday, October 7, 2023. Photo: VCG

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (center) and other members of the bipartisan delegation arrive at Shanghai Pudong International Airport to kick off their China visit on Saturday, October 7, 2023. Photo: VCG

A US bipartisan congressional delegation led by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer arrived in Shanghai and began visiting China on Saturday. Schumer, when meeting with Chen Jining, secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, said the US did not seek conflict and wanted to achieve a level playing field, "as we compete economically."

Since June of this year, several senior US officials and lawmakers have visited China in succession, and the two sides have formed new working groups to solve the economic conflicts that have occurred in recent years. 

It seems that the China-US relations are progressing in rebuilding a new track in an organized manner.

On Wednesday, China's Foreign Ministry said, "We hope this visit will contribute to a more objective understanding of China in the US Congress, increase dialogue and communication between the legislatures of our two countries, and add positive factors to the growth of China-US relations." 

We do not expect this single trip to change the US legislators' view of China, which is formed based on their fundamentally different ideologies that see China as a challenger from the East.

Given the downward spiral of US-China relations in recent years, any official interaction and communication would benefit both sides' understanding of the other, and direct contact, in particular, can have an unintended impact.

When these legislators see China's political and economic realities, mainly what has changed and what has not changed in China after the three-year epidemic, they will learn what the Chinese people are thinking and doing and how they see the US. Even if it is a brief visit, it will have some impact on them when they propose policies on China in Congress.
We hope these legislators will have a comparative mindset when looking around and talking with Chinese people.

When they compare what they see and hear in China with the reality in the US political arena, especially regarding political stability, they might gain a deeper understanding of the philosophy of national governance.  

The conflicts and frictions between China and the US are closely linked to the domestic politics of both nations, which continue to shape the direction of the relationship.

Domestic politics in the US, especially the "war" on Capitol Hill, the struggle to reach the debt ceiling, the removal of the Speaker of the House and the news of former President Donald Trump's resurgence, have created confusion and eroded international trust in the stability of US politics.

The polarization of the two parties and both parties' internal politics, as well as the activism of anti-establishment and far-right forces in Congress will add to the uncertainty for the fragile reconstruction of China-US relations and the mutual trust.

Before his trip, Schumer, who leads the group of lawmakers, once again emphasized the ideological differences between the US and China. 

China has never shied away from this difference. But ideological differences do not mean the US can arrogantly lecture China.

When a mainstream perception of China as a significant challenger has been formed in the US Congress, legislators will consider the China factor when proposing bills on a range of domestic and foreign policies. 

As more US lawmakers visit China, they will gradually realize that the hegemonic anti-China atmosphere they have on Capitol Hill when discussing China policies is nothing more than a self-created illusion. They are no longer qualified to lecture China. 

They can make their demands, but at the same time they need to listen to the Chinese side. And it is dialogue on an equal footing that is conducive to the stable coexistence of the two great powers.

The US Congress can significantly influence the White House's China policy. China will naturally take note of the atmosphere of Capitol Hill regarding China. However, it will not be perturbed by them. China's role in shaping the future of US-China relations is increasingly significant.