Key dialogue one step further in redefining China-US ties

Updated: 2013-07-12 14:09


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BEIJING - With crucial consensus reached on climate change, energy and investment, China and the United States have wrapped up their annual pivotal dialogue in Washington, taking a further step toward fostering a new-type relationship between the world's major countries.

The forum has become a diplomatic routine in bilateral ties since 2009, but this year's talks carried a number of new meanings.

First of all, the dialogue's co-chairs from the two sides, who are all new-appointees, brought new styles to the event and the personal chemistry between them proved to be fairly good.

Much more importantly, this year's talks served as a direct follow-up of last month's historic summit between Presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama in California, which set a new tone and new goals for the dialogue.

Of course, the much-hyped issue of cyber security, which drew broad attention among Western press, is also a novelty to the forum. A bilateral working group on the issue met for the first time under the dialogue's framework.

However, compared with more important issues with enduring, strategic and overarching influences, cyber security has yet become a priority in the China-US ties.

Instead of heating up mutual accusations on the issue in the wake of Edward Snowden's revelations, Beijing took a constructive attitude and tried to work with Washington toward building a safer, more orderly cyber space.

Despite the cacophonies made by some in Washington who continued to point fingers at China over the issue and the handling of Snowden, China stayed focused on the key issues between the two nations while making its position on cyber security sound and clear.

The dialogue process itself also showed new dynamics in the China-US interaction.

For one thing, there is more equality in agenda-setting between the two sides. While Washington played up the cyber security issue, China stated clearly its demand for more access for Chinese investors to the US market and less restrictions on US high-tech exports to China.

Secondly, China's concerns and interests moved up higher on the agenda. Instead of devoting much of the time in the boilerplate topics of currency and intellectual protection, this time the two sides discussed a bilateral investment accord and agreed to push for an early start of substantive negotiations. They also mulled cooperation between their central banks in the post-stimulus era of the global financial market.

Moreover, on the military and security ties, arguably the weakest link in the overall relationship, the two sides sounded more like cooperators rather than competitors during the talks.

When President Xi and Obama agreed to build the China-US relationship into an example of new-type relations between the world's major countries at their summit last month, they set in motion an unprecedented task for the sake of the enduring peace and prosperity of the world.

To achieve the noble goal with concrete actions, a candid and timely exchange of opinions on a full-range of major issues between the world's top two economies is badly needed. In that sense, this year's China-US strategic and economic dialogue has made a solid step further in that direction.