OPINIONS Keep China-US competition constructive


Keep China-US competition constructive


13:37, March 13, 2021

Chinese and US flags flutter outside the building of an American company in Beijing, China, Jan 21, 2021. (Photo: Agencies)

With China embarking on a fresh journey of development and the new US administration formulating its foreign policy, how China-US relations will fare in the future is under unprecedented global gaze.

In an age when the two major countries face both tremendous needs and possibilities to cooperate on a wide range of issues, the administration of US President Joe Biden seems to stress more competition than cooperation with China in bilateral ties.

Competing with Washington has never been Beijing's primary focus in what many deem as the most important bilateral relationship in the world. What China prefers is vigorous and mutually beneficial cooperation.

History also shows that win-win cooperation has been the mainstream of the China-US relationship for the past four decades. It is welcoming that Biden has recently, and on different occasions, expressed his intention to collaborate with China in areas like tackling climate change.

However, Washington is sending out signals that it could put competition ahead of cooperation with China as it recently described China as America's "most serious competitor."

Competition itself is not a bad thing. Given their different social and economic systems, it is natural for the two countries to differ and compete in one area or another. What matters more is that they should manage competition and their differences constructively.

The rational approach is that the two sides engage in positive-sum competition so as to prevent competition from escalating into confrontation.

Specifically, competition between major countries should not be abused as a tool of containment or an excuse to decouple each other. Rather, it should be the other way round -- healthy and complementary, and help the two countries realize better common development.

Also, the world's top two economies need to make sure that bilateral competition will not overshadow or even sabotage their cooperation. That is in their common interests and those of the wider world.

To that end, the United States needs to view China and its development objectively. Washington should work with Beijing to step up effective communication via various channels, including the high-level strategic dialogue between top Chinese and US diplomats to be held in Alaska next week, and to deepen mutual understanding.

In doing so, they can grow the much-needed trust between them, which is fundamental for sound and stable bilateral relations.

The last four years offered a clear and regrettable demonstration of just how far the China-US relationship could degenerate should the Cold-War mindset be allowed to prevail in Washington. At the moment, the two sides need to do everything they can to stop their relationship from further deterioration.

As Dr. Henry Kissinger once pointed out, the fundamental challenge for China-US relations at a critical moment is not trade disputes, but transcending the you-win-I-lose mentality and finding a way to co-exist in a new global political environment.

For the greater good of the world, the United States should join hands with China to foster an atmosphere for win-win cooperation, and to ensure that, in areas of competition, they compete in a healthy fashion.

Indulging in cut-throat competition will only lead to a destructive lose-lose ending.

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