Despite differences, leaders of China and the US base future relations on mutual respect and mutual benefits
China and the United States are both facing domestic economic and social challenges, but their shared interests and responsibilities are expanding in the global arena, which provides both sides broader scope for cooperation.
President Hu Jintao's state visit to the US is of historic importance for the development of bilateral relations. President Hu and US President Barack Obama issued the US-China Joint Statement, indicating that the two countries will work together to establish a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.
The joint statement shows the direction for the advancement of bilateral relations in the coming decade and demonstrates the two countries' resolve to work together to promote world peace and development.
China and the US are each the other's second-largest trade partner, with bilateral trade reaching $385.3 billion in 2010. Although there are still problems to be addressed, the shared interests are undoubtedly growing instead of shrinking, which guarantees more areas for cooperation.
But what does a "cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit" actually mean?
The degree of mutual strategic trust will determine the extent of the cooperation. The joint statement signed by Hu and Obama emphasizes that the US is looking forward to seeing a stronger, prosperous and successful China playing a bigger role in international affairs, while China hopes the US can make positive efforts to promote peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region. The statement is an important step toward establishing mutual strategic trust.
Mutual respect must be at the heart of Sino-US relations. Equality and respect will shape the exchanges between the two countries. Both sides should respect each other's development path, as well as each other's core concerns. The joint statement emphasized the two countries respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The US said it looks forward to further cross-Straits interaction "in economic, political, and other fields" and follows its one China policy and abides by the principles of the three bilateral joint communiqus.
China's development offers opportunities to the US and a prosperous and cooperative US will benefit China's development. The joint statement outlined that the two countries will build a comprehensive and mutually beneficial economic partnership and strengthen coordination on macro-economic policy.
Both sides reiterated their support for the liberalization of global trade and investment and promised they are dedicated to consolidating the global financial system and reforming the international financial framework. The US also said it will "work toward China's Market Economy Status in an expeditious manner" and reform its export control system.
Working together is both practical and sensible. China and the US undertake common global duties and more and more global issues are listed on their agendas.
China-US cooperation is indispensable to solving many of the problems facing the world, and China and the US must speed up their communication and coordination and work hand-in-hand to confront these global challenges.
The statement said the two countries agreed "to advance cooperation" to counter violent extremism; prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons, other weapons of mass destruction, and their means of delivery; strengthen nuclear security; eliminate infectious disease and hunger; end extreme poverty; respond effectively to the challenge of climate change; counter piracy; prevent and mitigate disasters; address cyber-security; fight transnational crime; and combat trafficking in persons.
Finding solutions to these issues requires both countries' constructive involvement.
The participation of the people of both nations will guarantee better China-US relations. Strengthening civil exchanges and friendships between the two peoples will invigorate the development of bilateral ties.
The joint statement declared the two sides "agreed to discuss ways of expanding cultural interaction", and announced the launch of a US-China Governors Forum and further support for exchanges and cooperation at local levels as well as efforts to expand tourism and cultural and student exchanges.
China-US ties are both important and complicated. But a cooperative partnership does not mean the two partners will reach agreement on all related issues.
As President Hu pointed out: "We should seek common points while reserving differences in pushing the healthy and stable development of Sino-US relations with a long-term perspective to open a new chapter of our two countries' cooperative partnership relations."
The author is an observer on international issues.
(China Daily 01/21/2011 page9)