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Let exchanges of civilizations be a bridge for Sino-US friendship


Updated: 2015-09-25 22:48:35


Chinese President Xi Jinping started his first state visit to the United States on September 22 and will also take the opportunity to attend the series of summits marking the 70th anniversary of the United Nations. During the visit, Xi and Barack Obama, two heads of state will meet again, following their meeting at the Annenberg Estate in 2013 and a subsequent meeting at Zhongnanhai in 2014, to have in-depth exchanges of views to ensure that Sino-US relations will continue to sail on the right course and avoid running on rocks or aground.

The Chinese leader has reiterated that China has no intention to challenge the US-led international order. The US side has also repeatedly stressed that the United States does not seek to contain China. However, these diplomatic signals of reassurance have not been fully understood by each other.

On one hand, the US side shows heavy suspicion on issues regarding cyber security, the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), Renminbi exchange rate and South China Sea with some even preaching the so-called "China Threat Theory"; on the other hand, the Chinese side believes that the US's Asia Pacific Rebalance strategy is intended to target China and that the US is intentionally causing trouble in the South China Sea. These and other divergences adversely impact Sino-US strategic mutual trust and trigger suspicion.

As the world's two largest economies, China and the United States can not only benefit themselves but also other countries around the world in important ways by maintaining and strengthening economic and trade cooperation, which is the "ballast stone" of Sino-US relations. If we compare economic and trade cooperation to eggs, then divergences that exist between the two countries are stones. It is not scaremongering to say that without resolving divergences, any small stone can smash the eggs.

Some argue that Sino-US relations have reached a critical mass that is likely to spark a tipping point at any moment. Should Sino-US relations be harmonious, the world will remain in peace; should Sino-US relations be antagonistic, the world will be in trouble. The big question of how to set the tone for Sino-US relations, manage differences, enhance mutual trust and dispel suspicion has yet to be answered. China and the United States are two great peoples. Chinese and American people are also great people. The two sides have sufficient wisdom and ability to avoid "Thucydides Trap".

The cold-war thinking of complete isolation has long been outdated. The destinies of China and the United States have become intertwined. In a sharp break with normal diplomatic practice, the Chinese government announced President's state visit to the United States 7 months in advance. This shows that both China and the United States have strong will to sit down and resolve differences. At the start of the New Year, the heads of China and the United States placed the goal of improving Sino-US relations on the table and let this goal guide the course of relationship between the two nations.

Recently, Chinese scholar Zhu Jianguo, after making a comparison of President Xi's and Obama's hairstyles, found that Xi's hair is "in good order and meticulously combed" while Obama's hair is "slack and flat". Their hairstyles demonstrate the fundamental difference between Chinese and American civilizations. China represents Oriental civilization while the United States represents Western civilization. However, this does not (and should not) mean that the two countries cannot get along with each other or pursue common goals.