China-US strategic and economic dialogue

Updated: 2014-07-09 07:31

(China Daily USA)

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China-US strategic and economic dialogue

Editor's note: Experts share their expectations of the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Cheng Li,

Director of John L. Thornton China Center, Brookings Institution

By design, the S&ED is intended to link security issues and economic issues in a strategic way. Previous rounds of the dialogue have shown that when the two countries have had irresolvable barriers on one track, they might have a better chance to achieve breakthroughs on the other track. Significant progress on economic cooperation could, in turn, prevent security tensions from deteriorating further.

Participants in this year's S&ED should be more engaged in "track linkage" than in the past. In the wake of growing nationalistic sentiment in the region, the US and China are unlikely to resolve any territorial or maritime disputes, nor will they suddenly begin to cooperate on cybersecurity. Yet, each side has strong incentives - and exceptional opportunities - to push for the market openness of the other.

The Third Plenum blueprint promises to be as consequential as Deng Xiaoping's economic reforms that began in 1978. President Xi Jinping has embraced the market as the "decisive force" to help the Chinese people realize the Chinese Dream. As such, leaders have made financial liberalization and service-sector development a top priority, especially in public health, education, entertainment, tourism, logistics and green consumption fields in which American businesses have an advantage and could benefit from market opening.

Chinese leaders explicitly claim that, as with China's accession to the WTO, foreign companies can help force the implementation of market reforms. At the same time, Chinese enterprises (including some large private firms) have become increasingly interested in investing in the United States - a trend that could lead to infrastructure improvements and job creation in the US.

The S&ED dialogue is timely, the stakes are high, the impact is multidimensional, and the opportunities should not be missed.

China-US strategic and economic dialogue

Jeffrey Schott,

Senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics

Unlike last year, I would not expect any big headlines for the talk on trade and investment issues that will take place at S&ED this time. But I think there is scope for significant progress to deal with important issues, particularly in the Bilateral Investment Treaty.

China-US strategic and economic dialogue

Zhou Qi,

Researcher with the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

The dialogue comes amid the emergence of a series of disputes between the two sides, including issues concerning the South China Sea, the East China Sea, cyberattacks and intellectual property rights. These disputes recently have deepened mutual suspicions, and there are a few skeptical voices both in China and the US whether the two powers are moving toward confrontation.

The S&ED this year is a good opportunity for the two sides to communicate effectively, to explain each other's policies and control their differences in a constructive way to put China-US relations back on track. This is the common expectation of both sides.

How to address climate change, strengthen cooperation in the field of new energy, fight against terrorism and promote the Bilateral Investment Treaty negotiations will be high on the S&ED agenda.

China-US strategic and economic dialogue

Jonathan Pollack,

Senior fellow of foreign policy at the Brookings Institution

In June 2013, Barack Obama and Xi Jinping met in Sunnylands, California, where the American and Chinese presidents voiced support for "a new model of major power relations," hoping to ameliorate potential animosities and to broaden US-China cooperation. A year later, the prospects for larger political and strategic understandings seem far more problematic. A host of contentious issues, ranging from cyberespionage, mounting maritime tensions in the East China Sea and South China Sea, growing complaints from US firms about access into the Chinese market and fractious internal debate within both countries about each other's strategic intentions, undermine the possibilities for positive movement.

A principal objective of this week's S&ED must be to stem the increasing negativism and potential alienation in bilateral relations. If these differences fester or deepen, the capacity of both governments to deal intelligently with a full spectrum of vital policy issues will be undermined. A candid airing of differences should be at the very core of the S&ED process. The presence of senior officials can also provide direction and necessary guidance for policy bureaucracies in advance of President Obama's November visit to China for the APEC Leaders' Meeting and the anticipated renewal of face-to-face discussions between the two presidents.

Policy makers can reinforce a shared awareness of their mutual responsibilities for what is arguably the world's most consequential bilateral relationship.

China-US strategic and economic dialogue

Chen Xiangyang,

Researcher at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations

The China-US S&ED is mainly used by the two sides to set the clock on a regular basis, to enhance trust, clear up doubts, avoid misjudgment and prevent a third party, such as Japan, from using China-US mutual suspicion to play tricks.

China hopes the two countries can continue to make headway toward a new type of great-power relationship, preventing a hegemonic country and an emerging power from getting into a confrontation.

China also will remind the US of the danger of Japan's right-leaning politics and military ambitions. China will never seek hegemony, no matter how strong it becomes, and it will reiterate its commitment to peaceful development in order to avoid misjudgment from the US.

Meanwhile, China will also warn the US of the danger of interfering in the disputes between its allies and China.

China-US strategic and economic dialogue

David Dollar,

Senior fellow with the foreign policy and global economy and development program of the Brookings Institution

I think there is a perception that the relationship is going downhill because of events like the indictment of the five military officers. However, I think the S&ED will stabilize the relationship. Over the rest of this year, we will see improvement, leading up to President Obama's visit to China in November.

I wouldn't say I'm very optimistic, I would say a little bit optimistic. I think things will stabilize and improve. Both sides will make efforts, yes. There is a lot at stake.

China-US strategic and economic dialogue

Carla Hills,

Chair of the National Committee on US-China Relations and former US Trade Representative

My hopes are always high, and I hope we can work more closely together on a number of issues. And there are a number of issues that confront us both in our national interests, not in favor of one or the other, but in our national interests. For instance, we can work on the environment. We can work on so many issues together, and we ought to.

Sunnylands was a high peak, and we have the opportunity to make another high peak. We have so many issues that we need to address, and it takes understanding and talking. If you and I disagree, I should be quiet and listen, and see whether I can find a way to serve my national interest that does not bother your national interest.

With a wise mind, we ought to be able to find that path.

Let's do it.

China-US strategic and economic dialogue

Li Qingsi,

Professor at the School of International Studies, Renmin University of China

The most anticipated results of the S&ED will mainly come out of the economic field, such as a consensus to take steps for the convenience of both sides' enterprises investment to each other. Chinese enterprises, especially those in the high-tech industry, though increasingly valued by the US side, have suffered setbacks while bidding for American enterprises of the same kind. How to boost investment ties, which lag badly behind bilateral trade relations, is an outstanding problem facing the two countries.

Past experience has shown that the crux of bilateral relations still lies in the US' misgivings about China's rise and the consequent encircling and containment policy apparently targeting China. China has reason to believe that the US has attempted to block China by using its allies in the region.

Among the more than 90 dialogue and communication mechanisms established between China and the US, the S&ED is the most influential platform. It has an irreplaceable role in building a new great-power relationship.

China hopes that the US can show respect to China's core interests, or at least refrain from maliciously infringing on China's interests when it comes to issues concerning a third party.

China-US strategic and economic dialogue

Nick Lardy,

Senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics

I am not expecting to see any significant progress on BIT for the simple reason that this is not a negotiating meeting that will get down to details. I am sure there will be some supporting language, an expression of hope that China will participate more fully in these discussions. The agreement will be concluded, but S&ED is not a time to go to the text and call line by line. This happens in other places with other officials.

I think both sides are working to limit the impact of the indictment of five Chinese military people. The Chinese made their reactions, they made their points. I think we are moving beyond that now.

(China Daily USA 07/09/2014 page3)