Opinion / Wang Hui

History should serve as mirror for Trump in China-US ties

By Wang Hui (China Daily) Updated: 2016-12-07 07:48

The colossal size of trade, the ever deepening people-to-people exchanges and the mutual need to cooperate on important regional and international issues all bear witness to the growing convergence of interests between the two countries.

That may well explain why Beijing dismissed the phone call as a "petty trick" while lodging diplomatic representations. Such a relatively mild response indicates Beijing's maturity in handling the complexity of China-US relations.

A doctrine in Beijing's diplomacy says one should judge people by their deeds, not just by their words. As US president-elect, Trump still has some time to learn the rudiments of China-US relations so that he does not make any missteps that may deflect the relationship from the right track.

In fact, if history is a mirror, Trump does not need to look back more than two decades to understand the tangible risks of a head-on conflict between the two countries. During that period, the two countries experienced some of the most critical crises between them in recent years.

On November 2000, Bush, the Republican presidential nominee, beat Democratic presidential nominee Al Gore to be elected as the new US president. On April 1 that year, or less than three months after Bush's inauguration, a Chinese PLA Navy J-8 fighter jet collided with a US Navy EP-3 spy plane off South China's Hainan Island, which caused the death of the Chinese pilot Wang Wei.

Prior to this, bilateral ties were strained by the Yinhe crisis in 1993, in which the US falsely accused the Chinese freighter of carrying materials for chemical weapons to Iran, and the escalation of tensions between the mainland and Taiwan in 1996.

As US president-elect, Trump needs to send positive signals so as to ensure the change of leadership in the US will not bring too much uncertainty, or even spell trouble for the US foreign policy, including China-US relations.

The author is deputy editor-in-chief of China Daily Asia Pacific.

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