Xi Jinping's vision of new type of Sino-US relations 'too ambitious'

President's framework for "new major-power" relationship is unworkable, analysts say

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 January, 2015, 12:40am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 January, 2015, 12:40am

President Xi Jinping's vision for a new type of Sino-US relations, laid out at a summit with his US counterpart Barack Obama two years ago, has proven overly ambitious, a prominent expert on foreign relations has said.

A more realistic framework was needed, said Yan Xuetong, dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University.

Xi called for a "new type of major-power relationship" at his summit with Obama at Sunnylands in California in 2013. Chinese diplomats said the initiative was defined by three points: no conflict or confrontation, mutual respect for each other's core interests and major concerns, and mutually beneficial cooperation.

Yan said none of the points had been realised, and the requirements for the new framework should be less demanding. "I feel we can establish such a new type of major-power relations as long as we lower the standard to include only the first point [of no conflict and confrontation] to define it," Yan said.

Yan blamed the failure on the US, saying Washington had failed to respect China but required Beijing to respect it.

Benjamin Herscovitch, a research fellow with the Australia-based Centre for Independent Studies, said the policy framework was not workable.

But Herscovitch said that both Beijing and Washington were at fault. He said that despite agreement in some areas, China and the United States remained committed to contradictory visions of the international system.

"In short, while Washington wants the post-cold war Pax Americana to endure, Beijing welcomes the relative decline of US global power and the opportunity that this represents for more strategic autonomy among Asian nations," Herscovitch said. Both sides had to reconcile their competing visions of the international system, he said.

Chengxin Pan, a professor of international relations at Deakin University, said the term "new type" of relations could be misleading because it suggested that ties between China and the US could become almost entirely different from what they were in the past. It was better to have moderate expectations and avoid dismissing the idea as impossible, he said.