The seventh round of the China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) will be held on June 23-24 in Washington. Against a more complicated and urgent background, this S&ED is considered to hold more significance. The dialogue should realize the following four goals.
To begin with, the S&ED should pave the way for Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the U.S. in September. As a major event concerning Sino-U.S. relationship and the last chance for talks during a state visit within Obama's tenure, the visit will set the tone and lay the foundation for bilateral relations in the post-Obama era. Second, both China and the U.S. need to cool the heated issues between the two through this high-level comprehensive dialogue. Top of the agenda should be the South China Sea issue and cyber security. Officials and media from both sides went head-to-head for some time on South China Sea issue. Now China has announced the upcoming completion of its land reclamation in the Nansha Islands, creating the room for mitigating tensions.
In addition, the S&ED should be used to abate strategic mutual distrust. China should address the U.S. concern over some of its adjustments. For example, tighter management on foreign non-governmental organizations and inclusion of ideological security into the new national security law do not mean China will shut the door of its opening-up, nor will China become an expansive country instead of a defensive one. A developing China needs more political and economic space, which does not necessarily go against the US national interest.
The U.S. also needs to respond to China's concerns and worries, including whether the strategy of rebalancing the Asia-Pacific is targeted at China and whether Washington is taking sides in friction between China and some of its neighboring countries. Chinese society has a strong feeling that Washington is slipping into containing China although it talks in a different way.
Last, both countries should strive for a breakthrough in setting rules for economic cooperation.
They in particular should further push forward the China-US Bilateral Investment Treaty negotiations and agree to include the yuan in the IMF's Special Drawing Rights.
The rise of China has upset the U.S. society, especially the elite. Some legitimate rights and normal actions of China have been magnified to become challenges China has imposed on the U.S.
By proposing to establish a new type of major power relations between China and the U.S., China advocates a constructive attitude toward tackling problems. Such strategic will is shared by mainstream society in both countries; however, it's repeatedly disrupted by temporary elements. This cannot be resolved through a strategic dialogue, but the S&ED could offer a platform to find a fundamental way to get rid of such a vicious circle.