China and U.S. need to deepen mutual trust

2015-08-04 11:01China Daily Editor: Si Huan

The participation of hundreds of senior officials from the two governments and more than 200 deals made the seventh China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue and the sixth China-U.S. High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange, which ended on June 24, a great success. In a joint press release, the two countries vowed to "cooperate closely in preparing for a productive state visit by President Xi Jinping to the United States in September".

The depth, breadth and fruitfulness of the dialogue were unprecedented and somewhat unexpected for some observers, who are used to reading reports on disagreements and even tensions between the two countries in the media.

The gap between the spreading negative perception of China-U.S. relations and the often ignored mutually beneficial nature of their relationship have for long been a paradox. This is more so because China talks more about the positive sides of the bilateral ties than the U.S. administration, not to speak of the media. Moreover, public impressions tend to underestimate the real strength and potential of the bilateral ties, which above all is the result of the absence of strategic mutual trust.

In today's globalized world, China and the U.S. have high stakes in each other's success. They have one of the world's largest trading relationships, with their annual trade being worth $550 billion. Their two-way investment has reached $110 billion and continues to soar. About 4.5 million visitors travel between the two countries a year, with a flight between China and the U.S. taking off or landing every 17 minutes.

Many Hollywood movies are just as popular in China as they are in North America. China has even surpassed the U.S. as the biggest market for Apple products. And the two sides are working together on regional and global issues like climate change. As such, a win-win partnership, not rivalry, defines their relationship, and it is certainly not on collision course.

As the world order undergoes profound changes, China and the U.S. have a responsibility toward their own peoples as well as the people in the rest of the world to pursue a stable and healthy relationship. The latest S&ED is encouraging precisely because it represents the bilateral relations as it should and will be.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said recently that strategic trust holds the key to a strong and durable China-U.S. relationship. Trust inspires positive expectations, with which major issues can become minor ones, whereas the absence of trust will only invite problems. That is why China is fully committed to working with the U.S. on the mutual trust issue.

The academic communities in both countries have a vital role to play in building such badly needed trust. As Confucius said, "A wise man cannot be misled". It is important for experts to be broad-minded, incisive and to not be guided by emotions, because their words can have a direct impact on public opinion and policymakers. That is why the downbeat rhetoric used by some big names to describe China-U.S. relations over the past few months has generated special concern among the public.

The news media, too, plays a significant role in China-U.S. ties. My friends who work in the American news media have also said there is a serious need for more interactions between the media of the two countries. Despite the overwhelming increase in China-related reports, they say, knowledge about China remains inadequate, which more often than not puts things in a wrong perspective.

Our American friends say that as the presidential campaign season in the U.S. intensifies, rhetoric on China will get more aggressive, making the domestic environment even harsher for the development of bilateral ties. We are fully aware what election politics means for the U.S., but we still hope that America's political leaders will bear in mind the importance of having a sound relationship with China in the long run and not do anything to undermine the fragile trust so that we can together cultivate healthy and stable China-U.S. ties.

The author Du Qiwen, former Chinese ambassador to Greece, is a member of the Foreign Policy Advisory Committee, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.


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