With the election over, US and Chinese leaders should get back to business
Patrick Ho says the two countries must move beyond the inflammatory talk in the US, scapegoating China, to focus on building a relationship based on common goals and mutual gain
When I think about the relations of our two countries, China and America, I am reminded of the words of African American writer Audre Lorde. “It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognise, accept, and celebrate those differences.” We do have our differences. Chinese leaders are most concerned with keeping the United States from challenging their country’s sovereignty and legitimacy under the present leadership. The US, however, sees the relationship mainly in terms of the challenge that China poses to the international order, which America leads and dictates.
In fact, Chinese leaders and officials have reaffirmed that China will always be a participant, a facilitator and a contributor in the existing international order from which it has benefited.
China has benefited greatly from being a part of the international order and the global marketplace. China, an emerging economy, is asking to be treated and respected as an equal, and for the United States to respect its differences – just as any developing country does. We respect America’s traditional presence and legitimate interests in the Asia-Pacific region as we maintain and defend our legitimate rights in our own region.
However, China’s action has always been interpreted as being aggressive in the South China Sea and trying to drive the US out of the Western Pacific. And the White House has been urged to take more open, higher-pitched, and more targeted comprehensive measures to “counter” the so-called “Chinese moves to change the status quo”.
We all know from experience that scapegoating China has been inevitable in an election year. Now we hope that the new administration, once in the White House, will be more realistic on its China policy, which should be determined by our shared interests, not by populist sentiments.
China pursues an independent foreign policy of peace and supports the idea that global issues should be decided by all nations in the world, rather than one or two countries. Nevertheless, there is a broad recognition that a good and stable relationship between China and the US does not just benefit both nations but the whole planet. Indeed, both countries are encountering similar global challenges: climate change, epidemics, natural disasters, terrorism, poverty, energy security, food security, financial instability, and so on.
Although we do sometimes have different views on certain issues, we should convince each other that our world is big enough to accommodate the development of all parties and start to build a new partnership for long-term stability and prosperity. After all, developing common interests can provide the necessary momentum for the two countries to manage differences.
My view is that the main factor determining the future of Sino-American relations will be economic development, and not the so-called struggle for supremacy in the Asia-Pacific region.
I believe we should be open to thinking outside the box. Working with China can make the United States great again. Indeed, our economic cooperation has already had tremendous impact on the quality of life of both our peoples.
I am confident that, with more economic cooperation, in the next four years, you will see geo-economics trump geopolitics. When nations come together to do businesses, they become too busy making money to think of warmongering.
I firmly believe we share a common desire to demonstrate goodwill to one another, and to achieve greater harmony in our relationship. This is an aspiration common to the people of both our countries – one that I hope will be heard by our governments and translated into constructive decisions and positive actions.
Patrick Ho Chi-ping is deputy chairman and secretary general of the China Energy Fund Committee