Xiong Lei

A tiresome affair of US demands

By Xiong Lei (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-03-22 07:53
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Editor's note: The author urges US to do something constructive to China-US relationship, rather than simply demand from China without respect.

"Define the relationship," may have been the promising words to start Jon Huntsman's speech last Thursday to several hundred Tsinghua University students, but the United States ambassador to China came up far short of a clear definition of the China-US relationship.

Though he later compared the relationship to that of a romantic couple in response to a student's question, his speech did more to show that relations between the two countries is lopsided: The US is keen on issuing demands and wants China to follow them.

Huntsman's speech is rife with demands. They are the same demands that we've seen recently from the US: China must immediately join the US and other Western countries and agree to impose sanctions on Iran for its nuclear enrichment program; China must shoulder the blame of the global financial crisis and revalue its currency; China must cooperate with the US on global climate change; China must stop its support for regimes that the US dislikes; China must not convict any citizen if the US government defines these individual Chinese as political dissidents.

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China should also not allow disputes over the US' recent arms sale to Taiwan and the US president's meeting with the Dalai Lama to obstruct their future cooperation.

This kind of relationship is indeed romantic, but it's only a one-sided courtship of the White House and the US State Department. As a Chinese, I can't see the faintest sign of dignity or benefit for China in this relationship.

The relationship is a perfect fit for the desires of the US, but is it a relationship the Chinese people are willing to have? Absolutely not.

To take my definition of a relationship even further, there is usually some give and take as a couple. But if one person is always demanding things, the relationship won't last. If the demanding partner isn't making any constructive contributions, the romance will soon turn into disillusion.

Similarly, there is no China-US relationship -- despite the vague definitions from Huntsman and other US politicians -- with simply a demanding US and an obedient China.

A country of 1.3 billion people should have its own interests to uphold and safeguard. Few Chinese of integrity can reconcile the fact that we are always on the side where demands are placed on us. And if trouble brews, we're always to be blamed as well.

The demands and blames are often so ridiculous, such as blaming China on the value of its yuan and its effects on the global financial crisis. One of the main causes of the crisis lay in the subprime mortgage fallout in the US, which had nothing to do with the value of Chinese currency. As a sovereign country, China does not need an American to be its financial minister and dictate its financial policy.

In interpersonal relations, romantic or not, demand is not absolutely unacceptable and that's the case with relations between two countries. But demands should be based on mutual respect and trust. If there is a lack of respect, the demands will be intolerable.

In defining their relations with China, I hope US officials learn respect before they put up any more demands.

The author is a guest professor of journalism with Tsinghua University and Beijing Foreign Studies University.

(China Daily 03/22/2010 page8)