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China key for US in Asia-Pacific: experts

By Hua Shengdun in Washington | China Daily USA | Updated: 2015-03-16 10:44

Engaging China in support of the global order is a key component of international relations, said a former National Security council secretary.

"The debate, if I can simplify here, into the new decade of this century, becomes one of how to engage China in support of the global order," Stephen Biegun, former executive secretary of the National Security Council and now corporative officer and vice-president of international governmental affairs for Ford Motor Co, said on March 13 at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank.

Biegun, a former national security adviser to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, said that China, as a growing strategic partner with the United States since the 1980s, has become a "key factor" in the Asia-Pacific region.

In the council's report on US strategy for a post-Western world, it said, "US strategy to 2030 must deepen cooperation with China as the most crucial single factor that will shape the international system in 2030".

"Interdependence gives the United States and China a compelling and direct interest in the economic success of the other, but the two countries must more assertively work to avoid the historic pattern of a rising power posing a strategic threat to the status quo," the report said.

On a broad array of global issues - the shape of multilateral institutions, the global financial system, the nuclear future, cybersecurity, outer space, climate change, global resource scarcities and Asian security - the China-US relationship will be a "major driver of solutions or of failure", it said.

Biegun said that a key debate in the recent negotiation of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement has been over China's economic engagement and the US' pushing back systemically.

James Miller, undersecretary of defense for policy, said that the TPP should move forward for the interests of both the US and Asia.

"As we see the majority of global economic growth coming from the region, a strong interest that we have is not in just participating in that for our own sake, but to promote free trade for the region," he said.

"It's incredibly important in my view that not only this administration but following administrations continue the so-called 'rebalance', " he said.

Catherine Novelli, undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, said earlier this month that the US boosts China's participation and bilateral cooperation in the region.

"We support China being robust in that region," she said. "That's where China is."

Novelli said that the US' old ties and China's interests were not "mutually exclusive" with "bilateral treaty talks that are actually going very well and progressing".

Guided by the US since 2005, the TPP has now grown into an Asian-Pacific region regulatory and investment treaty including 12 countries: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the US and Vietnam.

According to Reuters, the agreement would set up a free trade bloc encompassing about 800 million people and almost 40 percent of the global economy. China, the largest international trade country in the world, has yet to be included.

China's Vice-Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said last year that the Asia-Pacific trade deal would be "incomplete" in the long term without Beijing's participation, which was widely regarded as a turning point for China's increasing interest in the regional free trade agreement.

"We want to see the real development of the TPP here," Zhu said last October. "We want to see the Chinese economy more integrated with the global system."

"This provides an opportunity to work out a new type of major power relationship if the US continues to avoid containment as a strategy, and if China accepts the legitimacy of the American presence in the Western Pacific," said Josephe Nye, a distinguished professor at Harvard University, in his latest article, The Future of US-China Relations.

"With the right choices, conflict is not inevitable," he added.

Sheng Yang in Washington contributed to this story.



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