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US, China to seek common interests

The world’s two biggest economies will co-operate to seek more common interests despite competition and potential conflicts, Chinese and US experts have said.

Report by Xinhua

Their comments came with China unveiling its new leadership line-up for the next five years and Barack Obama’s re-election as US president.

Both situations are sure to impact Sino-US relations, clearly one of the world’s most important dynamics. They could also have a far-reaching effect on the world order.

Policy continuity
Analysts said neither of the two events will lead to substantial changes in the two countries’ foreign policies toward each other.

“It is almost certain that the Obama administration’s China policy will not undergo drastic change in its second term,” said Wang Feng, director of the Brookings-Tsinghua Centre for Public Policy at China’s Tsinghua University. “Obama’s Asia pivot strategy will be extended and implemented in the next four years,” Wang said, adding that Washington will also be committed to maintaining domestic economic growth.

Policy continuity has also been stressed on the Chinese side. In his keynote report to the 18th national congress of the Communist Party of China, Hu Jintao, the outgoing Chinese president, reiterated that the country will improve and grow its relations with developed countries by expanding areas of co-operation and properly addressing differences with them.

Competition and conflicts
Although observers maintain the new generation of Chinese leaders has a broad international horizon and will show more flexibility in handling the country’s relations with the US, experts have also warned that competition and ensuing conflicts are unavoidable.

Chen Jidong, an international relations professor at China’s Sichuan University, said competition between the US and China would become more distinct.

“As a wary US is still containing and watching out for a rising China, competition and conflicts of interest will be inevitable,” he said.

Optimistic academics, however, suggest that the substantial interdependence and extensive shared interests between the two countries will co-ordinate their competition and cushion any negative impact to some extent.

Interwoven interest
Thirty-three years after they established diplomatic ties, China and the US are now each other’s second-largest trading partner. As the largest foreign US creditor, China is also the largest exporter in the world while the US is the largest importer.

“Compared with 30 years ago, we now have quite broad common interests: in the global economy, nuclear non-proliferation and climate change, all these areas,” said Orville Schell, Arthur Ross director of the Centre on US-China Relations at Asia Society in New York. He believes that for the sake of common interests, the two countries have to negotiate and discuss on many different levels.

Zero-sum game?
David Shambaugh, a US professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, said for the two governments, the key is to balance competition and co-operation.

“The big challenge for both governments is to manage a competitive relationship and keep it from becoming an adversarial one,” said Shambaugh. —

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