China, US need to deal with vital issues first

By Douglas Paal ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-09-14 07:58:42

If Americans focus on Chinese activities in the South China Sea, cyberspace and the currency markets during the upcoming state visit of President Xi Jinping to the United States, they will be mistaking the urgent for the important. This summit should be about what is important: the health of the global economy and successful management of the inevitable frictions between the two largest economies.

The Barack Obama administration is perceived as weak in its response to developments in the South China Sea (and elsewhere) over the past few years. Officials have complained endlessly, but done little. This has created the false impression that the tiny islands there are at the center of US-China relations, whereas they are just one among many arenas in the Asia-Pacific region where China's growing capabilities are bumping up against a security framework that has never had to accommodate Chinese interests before.

The real challenge for Washington is to find a way to engage Beijing while building on the success of the alliance arrangements that have prevailed in the region since World War II. These have largely brought peace and prosperity to the region, including to China, while avoiding crippling arms races among Asia's heterogeneous nations.

China, US need to deal with vital issues first

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