US President Donald Trump called President Xi Jinping on October 25 to congratulate him on being re-elected as General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee and for the successful conclusion of the 19th CPC National Congress. As the two leaders spoke on the phone, President Trump said he is looking forward to his upcoming China visit and meeting with President Xi in Beijing where they will discuss international and regional issues, along with strengthening bilateral ties.
It was the first conversation President Xi had with a foreign leader since the 19th Congress concluded. As an important conversation before Trump's visit to China, the gesture is a positive signal for China-US relations.
China has placed immense importance on "building a community of common destiny for all mankind." The healthy and steady growth of China-US relations is undoubtedly a crucial step toward achieving this goal. Maintaining a positive relationship is not only beneficial for the two powers, but ultimately a gift to the world.
Within a short amount of time, Present Xi and President Trump have implemented a constructive method of communication while fostering a personal relationship with each other. The two leaders frequently speak with one another and their interaction has grown to represent the advances made on the development of China-US relations.
It's unfortunate how a few US elite groups choose to voice concerns over the complex issues surrounding China-US relations. Over the past week, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Minister James Mattis separately criticized China. One accused China of engaging in "predatory economics" with foreign nations. Furthermore, Voice of America heavily promoted a RAND corporation think-tank report on how conflict between the US and China is a greater possibility today than it was six years ago.
The RAND report detailed various scenarios that could result in conflict over issues involving the Korean Peninsula, Taiwan or the South China Sea. In response, there were a few Chinese think-tanks that offered their negative predictions on the future of China-US relations. However, it is important to note that the Chinese think-tank scenarios were not disseminated through media to stimulate national sentiment. Aware of the importance of protecting a friendly atmosphere among the citizens of both countries, Chinese intellectuals refrain themselves from releasing pessimistic viewpoints.
It has been proven that any proposition of nationalism or populism is typically associated with pompous US behavior, and yet relatively soft voices proceed with caution while monitoring all situations. In comparing the public opinions of China with the US, it would prove to be evident the Chinese side is optimistic over bilateral relations, while some US media organizations take a more passive position. The latter prefers to manifest its influence by highlighting the friction between the two countries.
Some anxiety-ridden Americans happen to be deeply insecure over China's rapid development. Such feelings of inadequacy prevent them from making neutral evaluations. It is easier to accuse China of being too assertive and arrogant.
These same people insist that China has an obligation to obey the international rules set forth the by the US. They like to throw the "principle" label on anything and everything regardless of importance, and then follow up with how they should not relinquish their core interests with China.
As China grows stronger, naturally its interests will expand and so will its efforts to protect such interests. China has faced similar issues in the past. But now, as a rising power, other countries might feel China has become "tougher," resulting in the nation's intangible stress.
A country whose power increases will find itself with the ability to firmly protect its interests with obviously greater force. How the US chooses to view such changes will be a key variable on the future of China-US relations.
If Washington wants the Asia-Pacific relationship to be the way it was prior to China's ascension, and if it continues to reject practical adjustments, then China-US relations could experience a downturn. On the other hand, if Washington can show a vigilant understanding of China's core bottom-line interests and work with Beijing in establishing a stable and long-term bilateral relationship, then bilateral ties will advance.
Overall, China and the US should remain strategically rational when working together, even though friction exists among both sides. Often, this friction was not created by China, but rather the US in how they always set requirements for China to meet, and failure to do so will be turned into an international ordeal. Such strong positioning from the US will remain obstacle for the stable development of China-US relations.
Nevertheless, positive factors continue to outweigh the negative ones. It is possible for both sides to realize their mutual benefits and reach a win-win result. Nationalism exists in both sides and is brought about through different methods. Rational and realistic thought will not buckle over fatal decisions. The China-US relationship does have a promising future.