US and China Explore New Relationship

An AcrobatIt will be some time before the full consequences of the California summit meeting between US President Barack Obama and China’s new leader, Xi Jinping, are revealed. Nixon-Mao it was not. Nevertheless, the well-timed + much-needed unscripted discussion focused on fundamental questions about the US-China relationship which has reached a new level of tension because of mutual distrust and suspicion. Xi rightly observed during a preparatory meeting with senior US officials that the US-China relationship, arguably most important bilateral relationship in the world, is at a “critical juncture.” But based on the 8 hours of meetings, “new model of relations” which both leaders pledged to create remains a largely aspirational goal. On the explosive issue of the cybersecurity, especially the cybertheft of US intellectual property, summit’s achievement was to stress to Xi the priority of the issue, and as outgoing US National Security Advisor Tom Donilon told reporters, place it “at center of the relationship.” In what may prove most notable outcome of the meeting, Washington and Beijing appeared to move closer on North Korea, agreeing neither would accept a nuclear North Korea. Beijing is chief provider of energy and food to the North. Prior to Pyongyang’s third nuclear test in February, China has appeared to place stability on the Korean Peninsula above the nuclear issue. The Obama-Xi summit may have established a basis for closer coordination in managing nuclear problem and perhaps the eventual reunification of Korea as well. If so, such cooperation may help melt underlying mutual distrust that permeates the relationship. For Beijing, there is fear that the US posture in Asia is designed to “contain” a rising China; for the US, a fear that China seeks to deny the US a preponderant role in the Pacific, there is little evidence that the summit has put the relationship on a more positive path. Since 1972, eight presidents, from Richard Nixon to Obama, have pursued a remarkably consistent policy toward China, cooperating where possible and in seeking to manage differences. But the relationship may be at tipping point: current bilateral relationship as presently constituted is no longer sustainable. Over the course of this decade it will almost certainly either tilt toward being more cooperative or more competitive, toward more collaborative efforts to address global problems and manage regional security in the Pacific or toward a confrontation. The direction it drifts toward will go a long way to determining the future shape of the global system. Can new equilibrium in US-China relations, what Xi calls “a new type of relationship between major countries in 21st century,” be attained? Shirtsleeves, schmoozing and long walks can help create familiarity between leaders could prove helpful in a crisis. Better communication at the top can minimize misunderstandings. But at the end of the day, it is interests and to some extent values, not personalities, that shape a relationship. The world’s two largest economies, the world’s largest creditor and its largest debtor, the two largest energy consumers and Pacific powers, are deeply intertwined. Yet the tensions over cybersecurity, trade, currency manipulation, China’s behavior toward territorial disputes in East Asia, not least, differences in values between a democracy and an authoritarian one-party state have steadily deepened mutual distrust and suspicion (…..)

Link: http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/us-and-china-explore-new-relationship

Acerca de ignaciocovelo
Consultor Internacional

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