Forging new type of major-country relationship between China, U.S.

Talking about U.S.-China relations, there is a new concept that has to be discussed — the new type of major-country relationship.

The concept, first brought about by China in 2012, has been one of the guidelines for Beijing to interact with Washington.

But what is this new type of major-country relationship? What does it mean for the world’s top two economies?

Beijing says a new type of major-country relationship not only benefits China and the United States, but also serves to reassure the entire world.

The idea goes like this. World peace depends, to a large extent, on whether there is lasting peace between major countries. But in history, major countries, especially emerging powers and established powers, were likely to engage in competition and end up in confrontation or even conflict. China, however, says it does not subscribe to such a pattern.

Beijing has stressed that it has the resolve and confidence to prevent and break this so-called pattern through working with other major countries, including the U.S.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE): Dr. SU GE, Director, China Institute of Int’ l Studies
“The term of a new type of major-country relationship is concise but with rich meanings. It’s not a tag, but offers a guidance. In the current world of multi-polarity and globalization, no single country can develop by itself without inclusiveness and cooperation. No matter in what expression, it’ s important to know that as long as China and the U.S. do not go the old way of conflicts between a rising power and an existing power, they have to build a new type of major-country relationship.”

In June 2013, after a meeting at Annenberg Retreat, California, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama endorsed this new type of major-country relationship.

Over the past two years, the world’s two biggest economies have been making progress in this regard, maintaining the momentum in developing bilateral ties despite occasional disputes and frictions.

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): KENNETH LIEBERTHAL, Senior fellow, Brookings Institution
“I think the achievements that we have had in the last three years on cooperation on major issues really focuses especially on climate change. Three years ago we were far apart on the issue and now we seem to be in a much better place on it and our cooperation on that is of fundamental importance to the global future. I think the Iran nuclear deal also highlights a place where the U.S. and China cooperate as members of the P5 plus 1, and now have an agreement that will make the Middle East a much safer place, at least for the next 10 years or so. That’ s very important. ”

No doubt disagreement remains, but experts and officials say the two countries have plenty of shared interests and their relationship may not necessarily be a zero-sum game.

“Take an objective look at the China-U.S. ties, we have to admit that the two countries is very different from each other and have many differences, disagreements and sometimes even frictions. When existing differences have been overcome, new ones will arise. This is also a normal. The key to keeping U.S.-China relations on a healthy, stable and sustainable development track is to step up cooperation in light of growing common concern and interests, while managing differences in a constructive way.”

SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH): KENNETH LIEBERTHAL, Senior fellow, Brookings Institution

“There are other areas clearly where our relationship has become more tense and more worrisome rather than better, but the goal is to have the confidence and the degree of mutual understanding to be able to find ways to reduce the chances that those other frictions will escalate. For example at the upcoming state visit, I anticipate that we are likely to announce confidence building measures regarding our close air encounters, where our planes get close to each other in a worrisome fashion. Also perhaps some additional occasions for crises communications and management of crises. So these are things in which the benefit is that they avoid future problems or reduce the chances of future problems, and I think that will deepen.”

The upcoming state visit by the Chinese president to the U.S. is expected to give another push for forging a new type of major-country relationship. Just as the Chinese foreign minister has said, positive interaction and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries are “absolutely possible and necessary.”

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE): WANG YI, Chinese Foreign Minister
“China is the biggest developing country and the United States the biggest developed one. Relations between the two countries go far beyond the bilateral context and take on a global strategic implication. China and the US working together benefits both countries and the world at large. Frictions in relations undermine both countries’ interests and affect the wider world.”

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