President Xi Jinping had a phone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump on June 18.
The two state leaders decided to meet on the sidelines of the coming G20 Leaders’ Summit in the Japanese city of Osaka between June 28 and 29 to discuss bilateral ties and other fundamental issues of common concern. They also hoped that the working teams of the two sides would communicate and find solutions to the existing differences as soon as possible.
Ties between the United States and China, two of the largest economies in the world, have been witnessing some setbacks in recent months with the two countries targeting each other with hiked tariffs and escalating tensions in many other fields.
The day after the phone conversation, not only Chinese stock exchanges but also the U.S. capital markets saw relatively good performance, with the Dow Jones Index, NASDAQ Index and Standard and Poor’s Composite Index increasing by 0.15 percent, 0.42 percent and 0.3 percent respectively on June 19.
The Sino-U.S. relationship is too big to fail. Even an easing signal made by top leaders can bring about some positive influence on the two powerful economies and even the whole world. This has also shown that cooperation and coordination are fully in line with the benefits of both countries, while confrontation and antagonism are not in the interests of either side.
We know that the China-U.S. relationship is in a particularly difficult environment. However, even if the two sides cannot enhance their ties from the state level at present, they should urge cooperation at the sub-national level right now.
Earlier this month, a Guangdong delegation led by Ouyang Weimin, vice governor of the province, took part in a business forum in California. The conference, co-sponsored by Guangdong Province and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, aimed to strengthen economic and trade ties between Guangdong and the San Francisco Bay Area. While being interviewed, Ouyang said that the Guangdong delegation had received good feedback from meetings with local U.S officials and business leaders. He also heard there is a strong desire to promote economic ties with China from various circles in the United States.
Further beefing up Sino-U.S. ties in culture, sports and some other not-so-sensitive aspects is also very important. For example, in the early 1970s, ping-pong player exchanges helped to break the thick ice between China and the United States. More importantly, such a unique diplomatic channel opened the door for then-U.S. President Richard Nixon’s landmark visit to China in February 1972, thus leading to the normalization of diplomatic relations between the two important countries in the world.
The contribution of people-to-people exchanges between the two countries is also of vital significance. Given the importance of the relationship between China and the United States, it is also important for individuals from the two different cultures to get to know each other better. At present, of the more than 1 million foreign students who are studying in the U.S., more than one-third of them are from China. Chinese students not only provide a sustainable talent pool for the U.S., but also pay high tuitions and spend a lot of money in the United States. However, escalating trade tensions have already spilled over to the academic area too. Amid recent tightening U.S. visa policies towards Chinese students and scholars, the Chinese Ministry of Education issued a notice on June 3 warning of the risk of applying to study in the United States. The ministry reminded students and scholars to strengthen risk assessment and make corresponding preparations before studying abroad. According to the ministry, it planned to send 1,353 Chinese students to study in the U.S. from January to March 2019, of whom 182 (or 13.5 percent) were refused by the U.S. side.
As we all know, the U.S. has been built on the strength of immigrants since its founding in 1776. Increased visa delays, visa denials and prolonged visa checks for Chinese students and researchers have hurt the dignity of Chinese people and dampened their enthusiasm for studying in the United States. If the U.S. administration continues to close doors and let political tensions intrude into the academic and educational realm, the impact will be more damaging.
(The author is the editor-in-chief of the Shenzhen Daily with a Ph.D. from the Journalism and Communication School of Wuhan University.)