The author is Chinese ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai. The article is an excerpt of his speech delivered at the Brookings U.S.-China Leadership Forum last month.
The China-U.S. relationship today is probably at another defining moment. How we direct it now will have far-reaching consequences. Both countries have a big stake in the choices we are going to make. Whether or not we will be able to make the right choices depends on a few key factors.
First, it depends on our vision of the world today.
On the positive side, all major powers are now members of key international institutions such as the United Nations, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization. We are also working together in new global governance mechanisms such as the G20. This means that the major powers are committed to the maintenance and better functioning of the existing international order. As long as there is sufficient political will, it will be possible for us to seize this historic opportunity and build a new partnership for long-term stability and prosperity in the world.
Second, our ability to make the right choices will depend on our perceptions of each other.
For China, the top priority is to accomplish economic, social and political transformation for the modernization of the country. Its most important tasks are domestic, and its foreign policy is aimed, first and foremost, at preserving a peaceful external environment. Naturally, as China develops and integrates more deeply with the rest of the world, it will have more interests to attend to beyond its borders and greater international responsibilities to fulfill.
In doing so, China has to deal with the United States and develop a positive and stable relationship with it. Of course, when U.S. policies hurt China's interests, we will do what we can to safeguard and protect ourselves and ask the United States to change its position. But this is entirely different from challenging the U.S.' global position and trying to establish China's own dominance in the world.