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China-US key to global future: report

By Chen Weihua in Washington | China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-18 11:36

China and the United States should step up cooperation and not allow their differences to derail their overall relationship, according to senior officials and heavyweight pundits from both countries who have endorsed a report released on Tuesday in Washington that describes China-US cooperation as key to the global future.

The report, a product by experts from the two sides known as the China-US Working Group, said the most difficult and most consequential global challenges cannot be managed effectively without sustained cooperation between the largest developing country, China, and the largest developed country, the US.

It described three scenarios of a global drift and erosion due to lack of cooperation, a zero-sum world dominated by conflict and a global revitalization and cooperation that the report recommends.

"The US and China will have greater ability and incentives than other countries to cooperate in determining and shaping developments over the next two decades," says the report, endorsed by people such as former US national security advisors Stephen Hadley and Brent Scowcroft, former Chinese foreign ministers Tang Jiaxuan and Li Zhaoxing and former chief executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Tung Chee-hwa.

The report warned of a number of key uncertainties, such as the volatile global economy and the potential for conflicts, including the territorial disputes in East and Southeast Asia. It also recommends that the two nations should not allow bilateral differences and suspicion to derail cooperation and the two countries should establish a joint "vision group" comprised of experts to focus on megatrends and global challenges.

Tung, now chairman of the China-US Exchange Foundation, said the two countries have different histories and cultures and are at different stages of development and therefore have different needs.

"It is important, however, that misunderstanding and mistrust be addressed, and differences be managed and contained, but under no circumstances should they affect the overall US-China relationship," said Tung, who is also vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the top political advisory body in China.

Hadley, the former US national security advisor under George W. Bush, believes there has been too much talk about problems and not enough about the potential of the relationship.

Scowcroft, who served as US national security advisor under President Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, talked about the difficulty of speaking across cultures, saying that the US and China do not necessarily speak with the same context in mind.

"Viewing tension in terms of misunderstanding rather than disagreement opens avenues for cooperation and capitalization on areas of mutual interest," he said.

Cui Tiankai, China's ambassador to the US, said that after the historical meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama in June in Sunnylands, California, the teams from both governments have been working together very closely to follow up on the vision of building a new type of major power relationship.

He described as "especially encouraging" seeing the positive exchanges and engagement between the two militaries, highlighted in the past month by visits to the US by Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan and PLA Navy commander-in-chief Wu Shengli. Meanwhile, three Chinese naval ships paid a port call on Honolulu 10 days ago.

Cui said both Xi and Obama gave very positive evaluations of the progress so far during their recent meeting in St Petersburg, Russia. "They agreed that the two sides should continue to go along on this track" said Cui.

"So I think it's fair to say we're already moving forward to the establishment of this new model of a relationship," said Cui, who assumed his current job five months ago.

While praising the report for making a compelling case why China and the US should join hands and step up cooperation, Cui said more needs to be done and the ultimate goal of building such a relationship is to achieve win-win results that will not only benefit the Chinese people and American people, but also people all over the world.

"The challenges before us are tremendous. We should have no illusions about the magnitude of our task," he said.

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