Sino-American bridges need to be repaired

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This has been a rough summer for the US-China relationship. The mood in the relationship is increasingly sour. A new round of Anti-China acrimony has particularly gripped Washington. Economic uncertainties have been compounded by security concerns: warnings by a Chinese general about nuclear war, more evidence of China?s military build-up as described in the Pentagon?s annual report and assertions by some US strategists that China seeks to exclude the US from east Asia. Politically, a ?perfect storm? of Trade protectionists have joined coincided neo-conservative strategists to criticise China. The left and the right have found common cause. Congress led the charge, lobbies chimed in while the White House remained silent.

In Beijing, there are exists equally strong concerns about the direction of US
policy towards China. While the military pressure of Iraq and anti-terrorism remains, It seems to many Chinese officials and analysts that American the hawks in and outside of the Bush administration are pushing US-China policy back to where it was before ?September 11 2001, the pre-9-11 track, identifying China as the big rival.

The September state visit by Hu Jintao, China?s president, to Washington is offers an ideal opportunity to reinvigorate Sino-American relations with a new sense of purpose. This Such a renewal requires adopting a broad and strategic perspective that recognises the stakes in the relationship as well as the negative consequences of the two powers drifting into an adversarial posture. As President George W.?Bush noted on July 20, the US-China relationship is increasingly ?complex.? This may have been stating the obvious but his observation also sums up the current climate.

The stakes in Sino-American ties are high. Few, if any, relationships in the world have a greater impact on global peace and prosperity. Should animosity grow and the two sides become more adopt a confrontationalposture, many Asian and European nations ? including America?s allies ? would be put in the awkward position of balancing their loyalties. A fissure in US-China ties would also negatively impact several sensitive regional and global issues. Solving the North Korean nuclear problem, for example, would be impossible. A serious economic rift would also produce global disruptions.

Presidents Bush and Hu can thus have an important opportunity to halt the atrophy and enunciate a new vision for stabilising and enlarging the relationship. To be sure, A constructively candid exchange between the two presidents is an important element in this process. The two countries? do have difficulties , which must be candidly and constructively addressed. The key American concerns are: the US trade deficit; intellectual property rights enforcement; full access to China?s domestic market under China?s terms of accession to the World Trade Organisation; modernisation of the Chinese military; honouring the ?one country, two systems? model in Hong Kong;
easing ameliorating tensions with Taiwan; and
creating a nuclear-free de-nuclearising North Korea.

China?s key concerns include grasping its the strategic opportunity for economic development; in the next two decades; preventing Taiwan from seeking de jeureindependence from China; avoiding a strategic competition with the US; ensuring access of Chinese products to the American market; and securing co-operation with the US on global issues such as a stable international oil market, environmental protection, anti-terrorism and non-proliferation.

Beyond frankly discussing these issues, the two leaders could usefully agree a number of ?initiatives aimed at deepening understanding between politicians in the two countries, setting up more permanent mechanisms of communication among the governments and reassuring each other about core interests.

For example, more extensive exchanges could be created between the US Congress and China?s National People?s Congress among US and Chinese governors and big city mayors. At the governmental level, a series of working groups should be established to discuss co-operation on terrorism, nuclear non-proliferation, the environment and security in Asia. Rebuilding military-to-military exchanges and trust is also vital. Deeper cultural and scholarly exchanges are also needed.

More broadly, Strategic stability would be enhanced if China Beijing reassured the US that it values its the role of the United States?? including its military presence and alliances ? in Asian security and stability. In this regard, Beijing might consider sponsoring the US for observer status at November?s East Asia Summit, from which Washington is quite anxious about being excluded. The fact that China holds such status in the Organisation of American States sets such a precedent.

For China, reassurances from Washington about its commitment to the ?One China Policy? are imperative. For their part, China and Taiwan should implement a range of security confidence building measures as Taiwan?s president Chen Shui-bian has called for ? to stabilise the situation and better pave the way for reconciliation and dialogue. Another initiative that Washington could may consider would be to urge Japan to carry out the kind of domestic education campaign about the second world war World War II that Germany has undertaken. Many in China and across Asia feel that the US is complicit by its silence on this sensitive issue. By urging the Japanese government to take steps to publicly deal with its past, in a public and sustained fashion, Washington could put itself on the right side of the ?history issue? in Asia, as far as China, South Korea and many south-east Asian countries are concerned, thereby strengthening its moral voice and soft power in the region. in East Asia.

Such initiatives will not, in and alone, of themselves, stem the acrimony that has characterised Sino-American relations of late, but they might help. The most important act of all is for the two presidents to clearly and publicly articulate the importance of the relationship for both countries, for the Asia-Pacific region and for the global order.

David Shambaugh is director of the China Policy Program at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University. Wu Xinbo is associate dean of the School of International Relations and Public Affairs at Fudan University, Shanghai

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