China and the United States are compatible in many respects and those who think they ought to work together need to find their voices, according to speakers at a Hong Kong forum.
"The zero-sum, winner-loser mentality is wrong and naive," said Neil Bush, founder and chairman of the George H.W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations and son of the former U.S. president. Bush spoke at an event on Wednesday with the theme "U.S.-China Trade and Economic Relations: What Now, What Next".
"The truth is our trade deficit with China is natural - the richer country buys more stuff from the poorer country," he said. As China develops and needs energy, agriculture, and as consumers demand high-end branded products, the deficit will shrink. In the meantime, both countries benefit from bilateral trade.
"The demonization of China is being fueled by a rising nationalism in the U.S. that is manifested in anti-immigrant, anti-Chinese, pro-America First rhetoric," he told the forum.
"It has been frustrating as an American to see politicians use China as a political whipping boy and to see and hear one-sided anti-China reports over recent years" that disregard that the bilateral relationship has benefited the U.S. in the past and still does, he said.
Stephen Roach, a senior fellow at the Jackson Institute of Global Affairs at Yale University, said, "China's rise has played an enormously beneficial role, influencing the global economy in general and the U.S. economy in particular."
Roach said compatibility is shown by the U.S. reliance on China to provide U.S. consumers with low-cost goods. China also helps finance the U.S. government as the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities.
He said a false narrative has been created of intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and cyberhacking as state-sponsored industrial policies.
"All these arguments have been way out of proportion relative to the actual situation," he added.
David Lampton, professor emeritus at Johns Hopkins University, said Chinese capital is very important both to the U.S. and global systems.
Edwin Feulner, chairman of the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation, said the two nations should use negotiations to reach the "shared goal" of remodeling and upgrading their economic relationship.
"From our side, we have to learn how to adjust more effectively to our interactions with China, the rising power. And China, the rising power, will also have to learn how to face the reality that the U.S. is the current dominant power," he said.
Yasuo Fukuda, former prime minister of Japan, said that in today's dramatically changing world, "all of us should stand up positively to this new historical phase" of China's growth.
Noting that the issue China is facing is similar to what Japan experienced years ago, Fukuda suggested that China use the "difficult phase" of Sino-U.S. trade and economic relations as a "national chance" for its development and find new engines for its continued economic growth.
The event was jointly hosted by the China-United States Exchange Foundation and the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.