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Window of opportunity for new paradigm

By Shen Dingli | China Daily | Updated: 2013-06-04 08:18
Upcoming talks between Xi and Obama can pave the way for constructing a new type of relationship between powers

In the coming decade China may be able to catch up with the United States in terms of economic scale. This will be accomplished under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, who is due to meet with US President Barack Obama at the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage, California, on June 7-8.

Given China's projected fast development, some existing structural difficulties between the two countries will diminish if not disappear completely in the next 10 years.

However, the two countries face new challenges. These include China's emerging challenge to the US' domination of the so-called Global Commons - space, maritime space and cyberspace. In its Global Trends 2030, the US National Intelligence Council has forecast that the US will no longer be the sole superpower by that time.

Though the US is still the dominant superpower, it is suspicious of China's strategic intent.

Meanwhile, China has been equally suspicious of the US' "pivot" to the Pacific. To Beijing, the US' high-handed rebalancing in the western Pacific has encouraged Manila to change its long-held maritime position and challenge China in the South China Sea. Beijing is also worried that the US' support of Tokyo in its territorial dispute with Beijing in the East China Sea could lead to Japan revising its pacifist constitution, blurring the definition of aggression and threatening the postwar international order.

At a time when increased distrust is surfacing, it is a positive move for the Chinese and US leaders to meet. The meeting is not expected to deliver tangible results, rather it is intended to be a relaxed exchange of their respective views on bilateral trust, regional stability and global trends. The US interlocutors may find that China is preoccupied with its domestic agenda rather than challenging the US, and the Chinese leader will be able to hear the US president's rationale for the pivot to the Asia-Pacific region.

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