Chen Wenling: We should actively respond to US strategic turn
At present, the US-China relations are standing at a crossroads, very complicated and sensitive. The development of the relations not only related to the security and development of the two countries, but also affect the world’s peace and prosperity. China has entered a new era of Xi Jinping’s socialism with Chinese characteristics, while the United States has opened the new chapter of Trump’s transaction-based government.
The US strategy and its domestic public opinion have experienced dramatic changes: the top priority of the US has shifted from anti-terrorism to competing with other big nations. How to interpret the essence of the US strategic change, how to analyze and understand the deep-rooted motives of the US to attack China, Russia and the even the whole world is essential for us to deal with the US properly, especially the economic and trade relations with the US.
Personally, I believe that we should actively promote a healthy development of the US-China relations in the following five aspects.
First of all, we should continue and strengthen the leader-led diplomacy, which is crucial to the stable development of the US-China relations. President Xi Jinping has played a great role in promoting a healthy development of the US-China relations. Generally speaking, China has maintained a sound interaction with the US, which is the most important thing in dealing with US-China relations in the past, present and future. Having considered the current strategic shift of the US, the leader-led diplomacy will continue to play a decisive role in creating a good atmosphere for the US-China relations. At the same time, we should recognize that no country treated China as a competitor when China very poor and its leader of the country did not have a strong global influence. Now, China is being treated as a competitor by the world’s most powerful country, which means that China is getting stronger and the Chinese leaders have gained increasing international prestige and influence.
Secondly, we should continue to promote dialogues and exchanges between China and the United States, and fully use the multi-level and multi-channel communications established by the two nations after years of efforts. The relationship between China and the United States remained stable in the first year of Trump’s presidency, which is not easy and requires a lot of hard work. In the face of the US strategic turn and irrational actions, we must maintain a stable development and continue exchanges and dialogues through different channels. China and the US should take active measures to establish the four major dialogue mechanisms defined by President Xi Jinping and President Trump during their meeting held in April 2017. On the Chinese side, relevant Chinese leaders and departments are already in place but the United States also needs to appoint its liaisons and specific departments so that the four types of dialogues can be established on a timely manner. Moreover, we should also restore some of the previous dialogue mechanisms or start new dialogues between China and the United States. Without dialogues, the battle will be chaotic and there will be no winners.
Thirdly, we should actively promote the correct proposition made by China. The concept and proposition of the global governance put forward by President Xi Jinping will have a worldwide impact in the future. According to the report of the 19th National Congress, China is committed to be the builder of world peace, a contributor of global development and international order. More importantly, China has put those concepts into practice during its development. We should introduce the theories, ideas, initiatives and programs proposed by President Xi Jinping to the rest of the world, and make advanced concepts such as the community with a shared future for mankind the basis of the new civilization of the 21st century. Apart from that, we should make more efforts to communicate with other countries or international organizations. We should make good use of major international conferences and events to express China’s voice, conduct discussion, hold important events and carry out more extensive and effective works with think tank experts and world-renowned scholars.
Fourthly, we should continue to focus on the economy when promoting cooperation between China and the United States. Generally speaking, the US-China relations have experienced sound development since the two countries established diplomatic relations. However, the American society, including the US president now believe that it is necessary to re-think the US policy which has cultivated China into its own competitor. What should the US really review is why the US-China relations have experienced so much twists and turns, and why did the US and China not gain more benefits as they should from the economic integration? If the strategic shift of the US is to strengthen cooperation with China and build a closer strategic partnership, it will really make the United States great again. Mutual consultation, joint building and sharing will definitely bring good news to the two countries and the rest of the world.
If the US and China jointly promote the China-US FTA, they will have huge room for further development. According to researches conducted by the China Center for International Economic Exchanges and the Peterson Institute for International Economics in 2013, if a FTA can be reached between the two countries, the trade volume between China and the United States will increase by $500 billion. After more than 40 years of development, the total trade between the two countries reached only $560 billion in 2017. The completion of the FTA will boost the bilateral trade to more than $1 trillion, which can create 4.8 million jobs.
If the US and China can jointly accelerate the negotiations on the US-China BIT, it will bring a huge potential for development. In fact, both China and the United States need investment from each other and thus, they should pay close attention to build a sound environment and institution for attracting and protecting foreign investment. If the BIT negotiation is completed, Chinese enterprises’ investment in the US will not only return to $45.6 billion as it did in 2016, but will also maintain a double-digit growth in the future. The China-US BIT has already had 29 rounds of negotiations and so, the two sides should re-launch the negotiation and finish it as soon as possible.
If the United States can participate in the building of the Belt and Road proposed by China, it can also bring huge room for development. In 2013, China’s President Xi Jinping proposed the Belt and Road initiative, which has produced a wide and profound international impact. In the past four years, China has received positive responses from more than 80 international organizations, signed agreements with 56 countries for strategic connection, agreed to establish capacity cooperation with more than 40 countries and built more than 70 industrial parks with relevant countries. The Belt and Road initiative will become a great practice in the history of world economic development, and create a new path of human civilization through interconnection rather than a closed approach. Therefore, China and the United States should jointly promote the building of the Belt and Road and regard the initiative as a global public goods and a meeting point for the US-China cooperation.
Lastly, China and the United States should increase their total trade and promote the development of E-trade, which is often seen as the next-generation of trade. There is an article saying that Trump is striding towards the 19th century because the Trump administration is currently using the outdated and unilateral rules as the basis of the trade wars, which have seriously violated international regulations and damaged the interests of other countries. The United States should not struggle with the outdated trade patterns, trade ideas, trade theories, trade methods and trade structures, instead, it should embrace the future because the future has already arrived. The China Center for International Economic Exchanges spent two years on researching the next generation of trade: known as the E-International Trade. It proposed to establish the theoretical system and framework for the development of the E-International Trade. If China and the US can promote the next-generation trade mode by combing the advantages of America’s digital trade and China’s cross-border e-commerce development as soon as possible, they will be able to create huge space for better cooperation.
In short, the US-China relations will continue to move forward despite the frequent twists and turns. We need to find better ways to resolve the problems we will have in the future so as to create healthy US-China relations. The frictions and competition between China and the US will remain during Trump’s presidency. If Trump chooses to escalate the frictions and always target China, the consequences are likely to be unpleasant. The whole world has already seen that China strives to promote better international relations and uses its wisdom to deal with other big nations. China is committed to create competitive and cooperative US-China relations, rather than confrontation, so that more countries and regions could jointly build a path of shared development and a path of peace. China has received great support from other countries and displayed great tolerance and thus, China will win eventually. When dealing with China, President Trump should think twice before taking any inappropriate actions. After all, the handling of the US-China relations is much more complex than sending a message on Twitter.