Tuesday, June 8, 2010

US, China Engage in Deeper, Wider Cooperation

The recently concluded two-day China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue held in Beijing discussed major bilateral, regional, and global issues. The respective departments from both countries have engaged bilateral exchanges on energy safety, climate change, UN peace mission, counterterrorism, and enforcement issues. Their discussions have resulted in achieving 26 concrete results.

Foundation To Advance Bilateral Relations
These 26 concrete results cover the bilateral cooperation in vast fields involving nuclear security, energy cooperation, green technology cooperation, climate change, public health, human rights dialogues, anticorruption, third generation nuclear power technology, and maritime search and rescue exchange, among others. These fruitful results have given us a good indication that these two most important world powers have built good foundation to advance bilateral relations in depth and breadth. The achievement reached at the two-day bilateral dialogue will boost closer China-US ties. The fruitful exchange between the two countries will bring positive reaction to benefit the two countries and also people's welfare in the international community.

We trust the top national leaders from China and the United States understand clearly that good China-US relationship is important to each other and also to the international community.

As such, when Chinese President Hu Jintao delivered his speech at the opening session of the China-US strategic and economic dialogue held in Beijing, he pointed out that 'no matter how the international situation changes, regardless of what difficulty we face and whatever interference we encounter, we all must handle these from high strategic level and from long-term strategic perspective. We must firmly grasp and wholeheartedly preserve the hard work we strive hard together in wanting to build an active and comprehensive China-US cooperation of the 21st century, fostering strategic mutual trust, strengthening strategic cooperation and to properly handle differences, promote bilateral cooperation in bilateral, regional, and at global level of communication, coordination, and cooperation.'

Likewise, in his statement for the opening session of the Second China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue US President Barack Obama also said 'The relationship between United States and China will shape the 21st century. The importance of this relationship is no less than any kind of bi-lateral relationship in the world. We work together to build a positive, constructive and comprehensive relationship. We make commitment that through cooperation we will promote our mutual interest.'
In reality, China and the United States have their respective national interest; some of which like the RMB exchange rate issue can be conflicting. However, as President Obama said in this statement: 'Our two countries may not always reach a consensus on every issue, but through this dialogue we are able to have better communication and mutual understanding.'

Korean Peninsula Crisis
This China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue mechanism can indeed provide a platform for both countries to reduce conflicts and ease tensions. Take the RMB issue for an example, in this dialogue, both parties were able to deal with this thorny issue from pragmatic perspective. The United States has stopped its aggressiveness to force China to value up its currency and China has also promised to steadily push forward the reform of its RMB exchange rate mechanism. It seemed that both sides were happy about the same.

During the period when the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue was still on, the Korean Peninsula crisis was also at a deteriorating situation. In view of the fact that it was the United States and China that had helped to stage the Korean war and it was this two countries that had actually participated in this war 60 years ago, how these two countries can deal with the aftermath of the situation triggered by the 'Cheonan Incident' is of concern to the international community. Of note is that through this high-level dialogue, China and the United States were able to reach consensus in wanting to maintain peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula. Once again, this dialogue mechanism has shown that through engaging in the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue, China and the United States can, in addition to allowing both countries to reap common interest, this dialogue mechanism can also play a positive role to maintain peace and security in the region and even to the international community.

Promote Awareness and Understanding
However, we feel the brightest spot achieved during this dialogue is not the 26 or more concrete results reached, but it is in the long-term bilateral educational and cultural exchange built between the two countries. In an effort to promote educational and cultural exchange activities and other kinds of people to people exchanges, the senior government officials from both countries have signed the 'US-China Consultation on People to People Exchange' agreement and 'Educational and Cultural Exchange Initiatives.'

Although the establishment and development of bilateral relations is a matter between the two governments, without people's support from the two countries, such relationship is not strong. It is only through educational, cultural, and various people to people exchanges that people from both countries can promote awareness and understanding toward each other, thus eliminating unnecessary misunderstanding. The Chinese and US leadership apparently have already recognized the need for their bilateral relations to further develop through the promotion of nongovernmental people to people exchanges. As such, they have established such a mechanism to actively promote bilateral cultural and humanity exchanges.

To this end, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese State Councilor Liu Yandong on 25 May cochaired the first US-China Consultation on People to People Exchange Meeting at the National Center for the Performing Arts in Beijing. While in Beijing, Secretary Clinton launched the '100,000 Strong US Students in China Initiative' to oversee US students to study in China over the next four years. Moreover, the Chinese Ministry of Education also announced that in the next four years China will send 10,000 students to the United States to do doctorate degrees.

Shanghai World Expo US Pavilion
In fact, this US-China educational and cultural exchange program is not in the future tense; it is in the present tense. US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton disclosed that when she visited the Shanghai World Expo US Pavilion, she had received and met with more than 7 million young US student ambassadors. These young US students came from cities and towns from across the United States. These young people have all studied the Chinese language. She said that 'when they returned home, they would have their own closely related and inseparable experience with the Shanghai World Expo and with the visitors coming from all parts of China as well as from other part of the world when they received them at the US Pavilion at the Expo.'

However, China and the United States do have cultural differences. They also have different core value and core interest. It remains to be seen whether greater interaction between the citizens of the two countries can help bridge the cultural differences and competing core interests to achieve truly close China-US bilateral ties.

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