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Sino-US ties vital for them and world

By Chen Weihua | China Daily | Updated: 2023-01-06 07:08
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Chinese and US flags flutter outside the building of an American company in Beijing, Jan 21, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

The appointment of China's ambassador to the United States Qin Gang as the new foreign minister is a clear signal that managing well the most consequential bilateral relationship of the 21st century is crucial for the world's two largest economies and the rest of the world.

The appointment of Qin as the foreign minister also shows China's resolve to put Sino-US ties onto the right track — the track that it was on since former US president Richard Nixon made the ice-breaking visit to China in 1972 to the Barack Obama administration, in which many current senior Joe Biden administration officials, including Biden himself, served.

Speaking at a recent talk at Stanford University with former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd, former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice recalled her days in the George W. Bush administration, saying that the prospect for a manageable US-China relationship looked considerably better.

She also said the US had an "integrationist narrative about China", citing the "responsible stakeholder" speech by her deputy Robert Zoellick in 2005.

Rice praised China for doing a reasonably good job after being invited to chair the Six-Party Talks to discuss the Korean Peninsula denuclearization issue during her tenure. She also talked about the critical time when US Navy EP-3 spy plane collided with a Chinese fighter jet off the coast of China's Hainan province on April 1, 2001, saying that "the overall context of the relationship" was "that we'll get through this".

As for Rudd, he praised then President George W.Bush for reining in then Taiwan leader Chen Shuibian, who wanted to push his "Taiwan independence" agenda forward.

As one senior US State Department official had then told me, that if Taiwan declared independence, the US would be the first to say it does not recognize its independence, in order to defuse the tension.

I strongly disagree with Rudd for saying there is a need to arm Taiwan into a "porcupine". As a China specialist, Rudd should know that China has been constantly stressing that it will exercise patience and ask the Taiwan ruling party not to go down the path of independence while trying to peacefully resolve the Taiwan question.

That's precisely the advice Rudd should give the Taiwan leaders, because no "porcupine strategy" will provide Taiwan with security. That is why the continued US provocations including increasing arms sales to Taiwan and the change of its decades-old practice on the sensitive issue are so dangerous.

Rice's question should make the Biden administration think why it cannot manage the Sino-US relationship as well as the administrations from Nixon to Obama.

As a matter of fact, there were many ups and downs in Sino-US relations during the eight-year Obama administration, from the South China Sea issue to cybersecurity, but the two sides believed their differences should not prevent them from deepening cooperation in certain fields.

That is why China and the US could play an instrumental role in reaching the Paris Agreement, preventing nuclear proliferation, fighting the Ebola epidemic in West Africa, holding dozens of high-level talks each year and launching the 10-year visa program. That is also why the US encouraged the study of the Chinese language in the US, invited Chinese investors to the US, and welcomed the Chinese navy to take part in the Rimpac naval exercises.

However, the Donald Trump administration was devoid of such spirit, and it is nowhere to be found in the Biden administration.

In a tweet on Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he had spoken over the phone with new Chinese foreign minister Qin Gang. "We discussed US-PRC relationship and maintaining open lines of communication," he said. Yet China and the US need to be much more ambitious than just maintaining open lines of communication between the two sides.

Washington's reckless containment policy against Beijing, including its recent bid to cut global semiconductor exports to the Chinese mainland and using the Taiwan island as a tool to provoke the mainland, has raised concerns around the world about a possible clash between the world's two largest economies, a clash that will spell disaster for the whole world.

The author is chief of China Daily EU Bureau based in Brussels.

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