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U.s. china relations how an established power meets a rising power


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U.s. china relations how an established power meets a rising power

  1. 1. U.S. CHINA RELATIONS: HOW AN ESTABLISHED POWER MEETS A RISING POWER? Keshav Prasad BhattaraiAmidst so many irresistible and uncomfortable developments from global trade to strategicdevelopments in Asia especially from Middle East to East Asia, the fourth round of U.S.-ChinaStrategic and Economic Dialogue(S&ED) held in Beijing on May 3-4, concluded in a note of highhopes and more encouraged. The number of agreements reached and expressions made by theleaders of both countries demonstrated their deepened concerns and commitment in managing theirbilateral relations and meet global challenges so far.The U.S. - China S&ED deliberations carries more significance as it was the last such meeting thatU.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner would beattending in their present capacity. Both of them have articulated their unwillingness to join Obamaadministration if President Barack Obama is re-elected in the next presidential election.But the nature of their different political values nearly collided when U.S. and China were preparingfor the dialogue on economic and strategic issues confronting both countries. Unexpectedly, atrickiest and embarrassing situation developed between them overshadowing the whole gamut ofS&ED following the case of a noted blind Chinese human rights activist - Chen Guangcheng, whodramatically escaped from a rigorous house arrest and sneaked into U.S. embassy in Beijing.Mr. Chen a 40 years old blind lawyer, was confined in his home village of Dongshigu in Shandong -500 kilometer away from Beijing after serving a four years jail term for his opposition to China’sone child policy. Although it is yet to be disclosed how he could manage to escape from his prisonlike confinement and was able to take refugee at U.S. Embassy in Beijing for about a week, theChinese officials took it as clandestine U.S. conspiracy against China.Therefore, just one day before the high profile deliberations, the infuriated China’s ForeignMinistry spokesman Liu Weimin said that the U.S. official by using “abnormal means” helped ChenGuangcheng, a Chinese citizen sneak into U.S. Embassy in Beijing. China claiming it as U.S.’s
  2. 2. interference in its domestic affairs the Spokesperson asserted that China will never accept it anddemand U.S. to apologize to it.However, both side sensed the magnitude of their squabble and therefore made immediate effortsto downplay their differences over the dealing of the Mr. Chen’s case over far bigger issues thatwere waiting for them on the table from global economy to uncomfortable political development andsecurity threat from Middle East to North Korea. They did not lose their time and reached a dealsatisfactory to both sides behind the curtain to let the blind human rights activist to leave hiscountry to further his study in the U.S.Similar event had taken place in February when Wang Lijun, one of the countrys top cops hadsimilarly entered at US consulate in Chengdu, after he was dismissed as the chief of Chongqingspolice department by Bo Xilai - the party secretary of the province.Wang’s removal from office and his sheltering at U.S. consulate triggered a fiery investigation thatrevealed the involvement of Bo’s and his wife’s in corruption and even murder of a business partner.This led Bo Xilai –the charismatic senior Politburo Standing Committee member of ChineseCommunist Party, stripped off the position of powerful secretary of the Chongqing. Mr. Bo whoalso happens to be the son of one of the eight great leaders of China - Bo Yibo, a key colleague ofMao Zedong, was supposed to be elevated in the next round of leadership change by the end of thisyear.GREATEST QUESTION OF 21 CENTURY: HOW AN ESTABLISHED POWER MEETS ARISING POWER?While the whole world was impatiently looking at USA and China and was anticipating the possibleconflicting course of their future relations that would rightly begin from Chen’s case at the centerand China’s tough reaction against the U.S. government, the senior officials of both countriessucceeded in moving forward as if nothing had happened.They were able to persuade each other over their strategic intention and the choices available.Immediately they came to realize that any failure on their part to live up with an integratedglobalized economy and sustain their normal relation in an election year would make the leadershipin both countries pay dearly for it. They agreed they had no other choice available to them than todown play the issue and live up with the coordinated and cooperative strategic actions that will
  3. 3. deepen trust and reduce tension between the world’s two largest economies as well as majormilitary powers.Therefore, both sides exhibited proverbial restraints and the China-U.S. Strategic and EconomicDialogue concluded highlighting the will of both nations to build their relations strong enough tomeet the challenges of their economy. Chinese President Hu jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao and the theVice President Xi Jinping, likely successor of President Hu made their best efforts to make theS&ED move ahead as envisioned.The crucial remarks made by the Chinese President and U.S. Secretary of State during the S&EDdeliberations displayed their overriding concern on their mutual relations. The concerns theyarticulated and the agreements they reached if could be defined and followed up in the same spiritwith more comprehensive bilateral accords and the tangible stages of implementations they need ,it could indubitably give global peace, security and prosperity a new dimension.President Hu, attending the last such meeting in his presidency appealed both the U.S. and China to“break the traditional belief that big powers will conflict each other, and seek new ways to developrelations between major countries”. He also called both sides to advance with time in their thinking,policies and actions and asserted that the strategic choice of “the path of peaceful development”“is a solemn commitment China has made to the world” and hence “will never be changed”.Secretary Clinton exhibited similar enthusiasm at a press conference held at the end of two dayssession, repeated what she said during the S&ED course that “the United States and China aretrying to do something that is historically unprecedented, to write a new answer to the age-oldquestion of what happens when an established power and a rising power meet. And for the UnitedStates, we see this as an opportunity, not a threat. We look at the future with great optimism. Andwe believe that neither of us can afford to keep looking at the world through old lenses, whetherit’s the legacy of imperialism, the Cold War, or balance-of-power politics. Zero sum thinking will leadto negative sum results”.In her opening remark too, Hillary Clinton highlighting the importance of U.S.- China strategic andeconomic dialogue said that the S&ED process has gained more significance since it began in 2009.Indeed, twenty first century world cannot survive unless it develops a fine and matching globalframework for all countries getting strong, prosperous, and successful- that could deliver economicprosperity for all and help all countries achieve their common aim and realize their common hopes.
  4. 4. For that reason, as Clinton admitted whether U.S. – China or other major power countries or smallerones need to commit to pursue a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship to worktogether from local to Global level under a strong and open institutional framework forstrengthening partnership and “managing those areas where there are tensions and differences”.MUTUAL DISTRUSTS PREVAIL WITH CULTURAL DIFFERENCESPresident Obama and Secretary Clinton have been repeatedly saying that when U.S. and Chinathrive it benefits both, and it helps them in solving threats that both countries face from regionalto global level. But according to Global Times (May 3, 2012) mutual distrusts is apparentlyincreasing between them. “There are many things that can be done to advance Sino-US ties, butmeanwhile it seems hard to find where exactly to start”, Global Times says. It further claims thatwhen both countries are worried on the hidden agendas of the other side, it “appears to be a partof the plot in the eyes of the other”, it is not possible to make a breakthrough in dissolvingstrategic distrust that may any time disrupt the relations between two major world powers.China’s different political culture and its mammoth rise, has created worldwide concerns. China’srise is also seen as a great threat to western values that is dominating the whole world includingChina in many respects. However, China’s cultural values have not developed to a stage that canchallenge western values for many years to come. Similarly for decades to come U.S. will continueto become the single most prominent economic and military power, but if US’s projected declinecontinues, followed by the slowdown of European Union and countries like Japan, emerging as well asdeveloping economies will continue to gather more admiration for China. Besides failures to prosperand deliver to people may weaken many proto democracies further and may force them switchtowards non democratic regimes. But whatever rest of the world thinks about the rise of China and the supposed U.S. decline it isChina that knows it better how much it needs USA to continue and sustain its rise. Similarly only aprosperous China may help United States grow stronger to meet the global challenge of 21stCentury effectively. The Reporter weekly May 7-13, 2012