Jan. 1, 2019, the first day of the new year, marked the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and the United States.
The beginning of the new year also ushered in some fresh air for bilateral ties. On that day, both President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump spoke highly of the substantial progress witnessed by Sino-U.S. relations over the past 40 years as they exchanged congratulations to commemorate the monumental event.
The latest interaction between the two state leaders was not only an example of diplomatic etiquette, but also a positive sign symbolizing that the two nations’ efforts to manage their differences and bring bilateral ties back on a normal track, especially within the context of the long-enduring trade dispute from 2018. Due to anxiety over losing control of the world economy, the United States unilaterally launched a trade war last year to curb the development of China.
With the robust development of the Chinese economy and the quick growth of its comprehensive strength, it is obvious that bilateral relations have been facing a strong headwind in recent years. However, a trade war cannot resolve the differences between China and the United States and will do nobody any good. Experience has shown us that cooperation, rather than confrontation, should be the dominant theme of future relations between the two important countries.
As two of the biggest economies in the world, the China-U.S. relationship is surely one of the most important bilateral relationships on our globe. With trade as an example, trade volume between the two countries was less than US$2.5 billion in 1978. But in 2017, the figure was as high as US$580 billion, almost 240 times that of four decades ago. This demonstrates that the Chinese and U.S. economies are highly supplementary and closely interdependent. Under these circumstances, any misjudgment of the situation or incorrect action taken by either side would be irresponsible and even disastrous to the world economy and global stability.
During 40 years of mutual communications, Sino-U.S. ties have experienced many ups and downs and faced many new problems. Now is time to make a change. Both China and the United States should take full advantage of their political wisdom to rethink and reshape future relationships in a more constructive way. Based on mutual respect and equal footing, the two sides should view each other’s strategic intentions in a more rational and objective manner, step up strategic cooperation, enhance political trust and try to avoid misjudgment.
A constructive relationship is fully in line with the interests of both the Chinese and American peoples. Two-way investment was at almost zero when diplomatic ties were established on the first day of 1979, but the total figure reached US$230 billion in 2017. In terms of people-to-people exchanges, the number of visits between the two countries was only in the thousands 40 years ago, but more than 5.3 million visits were made between the two sides in 2018.
If we analyze bilateral ties from a wider perspective, a constructive relationship will surely help the world’s two largest economies better prepare, position and align their economic, social and national security objectives, which will be essential for the two powerful countries to coexist peacefully in the world.
More importantly, at a time when the world is undergoing profound changes and facing many uncertainties, a welcome signal between China and the United States could not only enhance friendly ties between the two countries but also serve as a demonstration that no country can be self-sufficient and insulated in today’s highly interconnected world.
(The author is the editor-in-chief of the Shenzhen Daily with a Ph.D. from the Journalism and Communication School of Wuhan University.)