Chinese and US national flags flutter at Tiananmen Square in 2009. Photo: VCG
Every day, there are 14,000 people traveling between China and the US. Over 50 percent of all Chinese students who plan to study abroad tend to choose American schools. Experts say China's relationship with a pragmatic Republican government is better than at other times.
Vivian Liu, 24, an undergraduate student in Beijing, was standing in a long queue outside the US embassy in Beijing Friday to obtain a US visa in the hopes of attending Columbia University on a master's degree program.
Liu is among the hundreds of Chinese people who queue outside the US embassy every working day, applying for a visa that will allow them a chance to go to the US. The goings and comings between China and the US has been increasing year on year. It is reported that, every day, there are on average 14,000 people traveling between the two nations.
In the work report of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said socialism with Chinese characteristics has crossed the threshold into a new era.
Experts say that Sino-US relations have also entered a new era as a result of the numerous changes taking place between these two great powers over the past five years. Thus the US needs to realize that the balance of power is shifting rapidly and should learn to develop mutual respect with China. As a matter of fact, the US remains one of the most favored destinations for immigration, travel or study among Chinese people. However, following Donald Trump's election, US immigration policy has become stricter, not easier. More young Chinese students in the US are also the victims of a rising tide of hate crimes. On the other hand, the change in the balance of power between the two countries is altering Chinese people's attitudes about the American Dream. Unlike their predecessors, more Chinese students are now choosing to go back to China after their studies abroad; they no longer regard staying in the US as their ultimate goal.
A more attractive China
Over 50 percent of all Chinese students who plan to study abroad tend to choose American schools, according to the Chinese Service Center for Scholarly Exchange (CSCSE), an organization under the Ministry of Education.
"Trump's strict policy will directly affect illegal immigrants. He wants to safeguard job opportunities for Americans, but it has nothing to do with me, because all I want is to study in the US then return home, rather than stay there forever," Liu told the Global Times while waiting in line.
"Students of our generation are not like our parents' generation," said another student applicant surnamed Wang. "Between the 1980s and 1990s, many Chinese who had an opportunity to study in the US wanted to stay there, as China was still undeveloped then. But now, apart from advantages in higher education and technology, I don't think the US has many reasons to attract Chinese youth to immigrate." According to data released by CSCSE and New Oriental Education & Technology Group, in 2017, 73 percent of all overseas Chinese students tended to go back to China to start careers. Many American Chinese are also deciding to return to China for new careers in this new era.
Jeremy Dai, 23, an MBA student from the School of Economic Management (SEM) at Tsinghua University and also a third-generation Chinese immigrant in the US, told the Global Times that at his school, more than one-third of all international students are Chinese with a "foreign nationality," primarily Chinese Americans.
"They are not ordinary students; they have very impressive educations and work backgrounds. They all graduated from Ivy League universities and have worked at top US companies," Dai said, explaining that the reasons why they move to China are due to the country's great economic potential as well as "the ceiling" against Chinese Americans within US companies that limits their professional progress.
Boosting bilateral trade
In this new era, trade ties between China and the US are also smoother and more interdependent, as China is becoming increasingly important to the US.
The US, however, tends to constantly express its unhappiness about "unbalanced" trade ties with China. Before Trump's recent visit, trade tensions between the world's two largest economies began to heat up, with Trump calling the US trade deficit with China "embarrassing" and "horrible" on Wednesday, US financial broadcaster CNBC reported on Thursday.
"China is the biggest source of America's merchandise trade deficit, though the US enjoys a surplus in service trade to China," An Gang, a member of the academic committee at Pangoal Institution, a Beijing-based think tank, told the Global Times. "US elites paid close attention to the 19th CPC National Congress, especially about economic adjustment and market reform. They tend to seek opportunities for cooperation and their own development from researching the CPC national congress."
"In fact, China has shown sincerity to the US when dealing with Washington's concern about imbalanced trade," said Bai Ming, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.
"China's market access for the US is increasing after the Xi-Trump meeting in April. To some extent, China's opening-up has been gradual, so we need time to meet the standards of developed countries and improve our environment for foreign investment," Bai added. "The US needs to be patient." During a meeting at the Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida in April, Xi and Trump agreed to establish a comprehensive economic dialogue and a 100-day plan to boost bilateral economic cooperation. The plan led to China allowing the resumption of American beef imports in June. "Another reason for the imbalance is that the US restricts the export of high-tech products to China, and Trump's attitude to the negotiation on the Bilateral Investment Treaty, which can ease the limitation on US technological exports to China, was not very positive," An said.
"China and the US still need time to make trade ties more balanced. It requires a joint effort. A balanced trade relationship between China and the US will also benefit the world economy, and Trump's visit in November could be a good opportunity to achieve breakthroughs for a win-win result," An added.
Friction and interdependency
A more intertwined relationship between China and the US also means more friction. Chu Yin, an associate professor at the University of International Relations, pointed out that, "An increase in friction between China and the US, be it economic or security, is normal, but it's not always bad for the both sides." "Because more friction means the two countries are engaging in more areas, and during the problem-solving process, the two countries will become more intertwined as the foundation of common interests increases," said Chu.
In Xi's report to the CPC National Congress, he said "Major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics aims to foster a new type of international relations and build a community with a shared future for mankind."
"With joint efforts, a community with a shared future between China and the US can also be built," Chu said. "After the US complained about market access, China made more efforts. The best example is Alibaba founder Jack Ma's idea of cross-border electronic commerce. With the assistance of Chinese enterprises like Alibaba, millions of small and medium-sized US companies will have an opportunity to access China's markets."
On June 20, Chinese online sales giant Alibaba held a summit in Detroit, Michigan. The summit was designed to educate US small- and medium-sized enterprises on the market and consumer demands within China, and to convince small American businesses that Alibaba can help them sell to China while also creating one million jobs in the US over the next five years.
"This means, in the US, the people who support Sino-US friendship will see more success, not just those business elites who do business with China, but also millions of ordinary people. And when millions of people benefit from China's market, the China threat theory can no longer stand," Chu stressed.
Apart from economic and trade issues, the US also has high expectations for China to solve its security problems, especially the Korean Peninsula nuclear crisis, CNBC reported. Song Zhongping, a military expert and Phoenix TV commentator, said that, "Apart from North Korea, the US also has friction with us in many other issues, like the South China Sea issue and the Taiwan question, and it demonizes China's overseas military presence, such as China's first overseas logistic base in Djibouti." In Xi's report, the leader said, "China will never pursue development at the expense of others' interests, nor will China ever give up its legitimate rights and interests. No one should expect us to swallow anything that undermines our interests."
In the past five years, China has become more confident about using its military deterrence to safeguard its interests and sovereignty, Song said.
"In the past, China mainly relied on diplomatic measures, but now and in the future, with its strengthening military capability, China will use comprehensive measures. The US needs to get used to this kind of change and build mutual respect with us," noted Song.
Song added that the US should realize that China's increasing military presence overseas is for safeguarding China's interests, not to harm the US and any other country's interests, which will contribute to global security. "In the US, there are voices suggesting deeper Sino-US security cooperation, rather than confrontation, and we hope they can become the mainstream."
"The Trump administration is extremely pragmatic, which makes us easier to reach an agreement. In the history of Sino-US relations, China's relationship with a pragmatic Republican government is better than at other times," said Chu.