US should value China’s strategic goodwill at San Francisco summit
Published: Nov 13, 2023 02:54 PM
A view of International Media Center at Moscone Center as APEC Economic Leaders' Week begins in San Francisco, California, US on November 11, 2023. Photo: AFP

A view of International Media Center at Moscone Center as APEC Economic Leaders' Week begins in San Francisco, California, US on November 11, 2023. Photo: AFP

San Francisco is garnering growing attention this November as Chinese President Xi Jinping will travel there from November 14 to 17 for a China-US summit and the 30th APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting at the invitation of the US. 

Expectations around the globe toward this meeting have been high, with the anticipation that both countries, particularly the US, will fulfill their responsibilities and steer China-US relations in the right direction for stable and healthy development. 

Member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and Foreign Minister Wang Yi stated during his visit to the US in late October that the path to San Francisco is not smooth, and cannot be left to "autopilot." To this end, the two sides should earnestly return to what was agreed at the Bali summit. 

During the process of promoting this summit, the US has shown, to some extent, a constructive attitude, proactively coordinating the "five musts" stressed by Wang during his meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken - The two sides must follow the common understandings reached by the two heads of state; must stabilize bilateral relations; must keep communication channels open; must properly manage differences, disputes and frictions; and must promote mutually beneficial cooperation. 

Multiple bilateral talks are proving that the US knows how to explore and amplify positive factors between the two countries, exemplified by the creative dialogue and cooperation which led to the discussion over signing of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in disability affairs. This showcases that when faced with urgent needs and unavoidable pressure, the US is fully capable to meet China half way in a proactive and positive approach, and promote China-US relations toward a positive direction. 

This San Francisco summit could have been realized earlier, if the US had followed through on the commitments made by the two heads of state during the Bali summit. Unfortunately, the previous summit was followed by US indulgence toward its irrational anti-China sentiment and irresponsible political hype at home over a meteorological balloon, Taiwan question, high-tech competition, among other examples. 

The US also maliciously harmed China's core national interests, deliberately disregarded the reasonable interests of businesses and the inherent laws of certain industries, escalated sanctions, all with the intention to contain China's development. These actions substantially violate the commitment made by the highest leader of the US toward China ties, dealing a heavy blow to the process of stabilizing and improving China-US relations, leading to a high price to pay in both China-US relations and the interests of the US itself, a price which could be avoided.

The most crucial factor in facilitating the San Francisco summit is China's strategic goodwill. China has consistently viewed and dealt with China-US relations in a responsible and rational manner, with a sense of historical responsibility and the pursuit of global security, development and prosperity. 

On the one hand, China has effectively countered the US' provocative line-crossing actions and implemented measures, demonstrated its strength through highly standardized means and tools like enhancing maritime and air capabilities of expelling trespassing vessels and aircraft. On the other hand, China has made maximum efforts to help the current US administration understand the importance of China-US ties, creatively guiding the easing of their tension, and pushing the recovery and improvement of their ties. China has released signals wisely on different occasions, constructing new interactive scenarios, and contributing Chinese wisdom and solutions to stabilize China-US relations.

The US side should value China's strategic goodwill. Various indications suggest that the US' willingness to facilitate the San Francisco meeting is primarily driven by domestic political considerations. The Biden administration's limited signals of easing China-US relations are motivated by the need for electoral gains. The only uncertainty lies in how long this limited improvement can be sustained by the US. So far, the US is still unwilling to recognize China's strategic goodwill. There are signs that the US may even misinterpret China's strategic goodwill, forming a misguided belief to have asymmetric freedom of action in China-US relations. This is worrisome. It is also a key reason why cautious optimism is necessary for the San Francisco meeting.

Of course, China-US relations are not solely determined by the subjective will of individual Americans. What instills optimism is China's steadily growing strength, which is stable and constructive, as well as the most crucial factor in maintaining the stability of China-US ties. It is important to recognize that improving China-US relations is a long-term task, and it is unrealistic to expect all problems to be resolved in a single meeting. While it would be ideal if the US could value China's strategic goodwill and meet China half way. Ultimately, the systematic improvement and enhancement of China's ability to shape and construct China-US ties is the critical anchor for the future development and stability of the relationship. This has been proven time and time again.

The author is director of the Research Institution for Global Cyberspace Governance at Fudan University. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn