Opinion / Op-Ed Contributors

The ball in America's court

By Wang Yusheng (China Daily) Updated: 2013-01-17 08:14

Barack Obama will be sworn in as US president for a second term on Jan 21. Obama's re-election as US president and Xi Jinping's election as China's top leader have intensified global discussions on whether the two countries' ties will improve or deteriorate and whether a new power-to-power relationship will develop between them.

During his visit to the United States in early 2012, Xi had said that China and the US should forge a new type of relationship, which was a goodwill gesture by Beijing to Washington.

Sino-US relations have progressed from one of confrontation to reconciliation and cooperation over the past decades. The US has to act wisely to make its ties with China "a little more comfortable" on the road to deepening mutual interdependence and a new relationship that would suit both countries.

Today's world is different from the imperialist and colonialist era when emerging powers usually posed a challenge to the established powers whose influence was or considered to be on the decline. What usually ensued from such situations were conflict, confrontation and even war.

The main theme of today's world is peace and development, and no emerging country - be it China, India or Brazil - poses a challenge to the US' dominant status in the world. What emerging nations need is "equal treatment" and a more equitable and reasonable international political and economic order.

China is consistent and clear in its emphasis that a harmonious world should be built and that the diversity of civilizations should be respected in the pursuit of common development. As the sole superpower, the US has been found wanting in its contribution to world peace, development and cooperation.

China and the US are now more interdependent on the economic front than ever, something that big powers never enjoyed during the imperialist era.

Over the three-odd decades of normalization of diplomatic ties, Sino-US trade has increased more than 180-fold, to $446.6 billion in 2011. In fact, bilateral trade is expected to exceed $500 billion in 2012. US exports to China has increased 486 percent over the past 10 years and China has become its fastest growing export market. Neither Beijing nor Washington can ignore this booming economic link.

At the end of the 20th century, then US president Bill Clinton recommended that a constructive strategic partnership oriented toward the 21st century be built with China. Clinton's successor George W. Bush did not pursue that policy. Instead, he shifted Sino-US ties to pursue positive cooperation under changed circumstances.

Since assuming power, Obama has defined Sino-US relations as "cooperative partnership based on mutual respect, mutual benefit and win-win results". Leaders of both countries have said a more energetic bilateral relationship is in accordance with the interests of the two sides, the Asia-Pacific region and the world as a whole. For years, China has been complying with this solemn commitment and exercised self-restraint in times of conflicts and frictions with the US. The US, too, has managed to keep its conflicts with China under control by following the same policy.

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