Nanfang Daily’s Exclusive Interview with Wang Jisi, a Famous Scholar on American Issue and Previous President of SIS, PKU

Date:2014-03-24

Editorial note: 

On December 13, 2013 when the Second International Finance Forum was convened in Sanya, Wang Jisi, President of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies (IISS), Peking University (PKU) accepted an interview by Nanfang Daily, and shared his views on Sino-US relations. Detailed coverage of the interview is included in the article “Wang Jisi: it is a consensus that Sino-US relations should be better” on March 27, 2014 at Nanfang Daily and Sina.com News Center. 


Wang Jisi: it is a consensus that Sino-US relations should get better


On March 24, 2014, when attending the Third Nuclear Security Summit in the Hague, Chinese President Xi Jiping met with U.S. President Barack Obama. President Xi stressed that this year marks the 35th anniversary of the establishment of Sino-US diplomatic relations. Facing the complex international situations, the U.S. and China enjoy more areas where they are working together, that need them to work together and where they can work together. China is willing to come with the U.S. to build a new model of great power relations between China and the U.S., and to promote the sustainable and healthy development of the bilateral relations. 

In a letter to President Xi, president Obama reiterated his commitment to the new model of Sino-U.S. relationship. President Xi noted that, this year both countries have their own important agendas, and will host a series of important exchange activities. He hoped both countries will work together to organize a new round of US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, U.S.-China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange, and Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade, and try to achieve more outcomes. He expected the two sides will accelerate the negotiations on bilateral investment agreements; the US government should attach great importance to and seriously address the concerns of Chinese side, deregulate the export of civil high-technologies to China, and provide a competitive environment on an equal treatment for Chinese companies to invest in the U.S. Meanwhile, the two sides should continue to strengthen dialogue and exchange in military areas at various levels, deepen mutual understanding and trust, avoid misunderstanding and misjudgment, and conduct more joint military exercises and training, as well as pragmatic cooperation. 

 As for the “new model of great power relationship” and cooperation areas between China and the U.S. defined by the top leaders, Nanfang Daily (NF Daily) had an exclusive interview with Wang Jisi (Wang) , previous President of the School of International Studies, Peking University (PKU). According to Prof. Wang, although the fundamental disagreements between China and the U.S. continue to remain unchanged in terms of core interests, political structure and ideology, and the strategic distrust increased, the cooperation between the two countries in various fields has become more pragmatic. Therefore, creating a new model of great power relationship between China and the U.S. will benefit the current and future generations.

NF Daily: Since the transition of Chinese national leader last year, the US has been focusing on the new trend of political and social areas in China. The Sino-US relations are deemed as the top priority of the two countries’ foreign policies. So how do you think of the new change of Sino-US relations in the future? 

Prof. Wang: Some Chinese believe that the US supremacy is in decline. Correspondingly, Americans are worrying about China’s rising to challenge US hegemony. But in general, the two sides have increasingly reached a consensus: the Sino-US relations should be better. Just as Deng Xiaoping once concluded that “the Sino-US relations are bound to get better.” The US concerns China’s change of political culture and ideology. For example, during US vice president Biden’s visit in China in December 2013, the core topics were the possible changes that the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee may bring to China, rather than Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). If such changes are not consistent with the US’ expectation, their original distrust towards China will intensify.

At present, Obama administration is focusing on its domestic issues. So even if it has some strategic distrust towards China, Obama administration thinks that things have not been worse of taking any actions. The US even believes they still have a rather long time to deal with this issue. Therefore, they are observing rather than taking any actions. Meanwhile, the US puts more pressures on China in diplomatic relations. For instance, the US claimed that it would not accept the ADIZ in East China Sea declared by China, and against some actions taken by China to safeguard its sovereignty in the South China Sea, etc. 

NF Daily: Sino-US economic and trade relationship are the relations between the two largest economies in the world. Organizing and deepening such relations provide key external conditions for China to ensure the objectives in its new round of reforms can be realized as scheduled. Therefore, it is believed that China and the U.S. should enhance coordination between their macro-economic policies, promote pragmatic negotiations on bilateral investment agreement, and try to address all the tough problems that have intertwined Sino-US economic and trade relations so as to solidify the win-win situation between the two sides. All the above topics should be listed as the reform dividends released by the Third Plenary Session. So, what’s your expectation on the changes in diplomatic area in the near future?

Prof. Wang: Whether the establishment of a new model of great power relationship and a strategic mutual trust between China and the U.S depends on the top leaders and domestic conditions of the two countries. If the domestic reforms in the U.S., such as Obama’s implementation of the universal medical insurance, the increase of employment, the reduce of financial deficit, economic recovery and so on. If successful, it can build more confidence. Then the US government can rethink its policies in international affairs, and it will not use too much military force overseas. The U.S is changing. From long-term interests, it will definitely not expect to have a vicious competition with China.

According to the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, China’s development direction is very clear. However, the U.S. worries about that rising China could challenge its supremacy of the existing global political and economic order. China’s major concern is that US may challenge China’s domestic political order , which would undermine political system stability in China.   

NF Daily: In the recent years, the U.S. has united with its allies to set up some economic and trade organizations or military and political alliances in Asia-Pacific region surrounding China. Some people in China claimed this was a ‘provocation’ against China. How do you think about this?   

Prof. Wang: China plays a crucial role in the economic development of Asia-Pacific region, particularly in East Asia. All the major economies in Asia-Pacific region are more closely linked with China than with the U.S. in terms of economic and trade relations. However, these economies are more closely associated with USA in terms of military, international security and other issues. Thus creating the stark contrast. 

The U.S wants to consolidate or strengthen its economic impact in Asia-Pacific Region through establishing TPP (Trans -Pacific Partnership Agreement). It expects to enhance its economic ties with the countries in the region by raising the standards and rules on labor, environmental protection, market access and the protection of intellectual property rights. Of course this will not good for China. While China is trying to advocate the rules of WTO, the US wants to raise the standards, which is directed against China to some extent. 

Undoubtedly, China will not make any concessions to the matters of sovereignty and territorial integrity. It will continue to reinforce its military forces and safeguard its security in larger areas. At present, the US has played a dominant role in security area in Asia-Pacific Region. Although China cannot replace US’ leading role of military in the region, it has posed a challenge to the U.S. So in reality, both sides have posed some challenges to each other.  

If China wants to play a more important role in international affairs, it still has a lot work to be done. 

The first one is the preparedness in thoughts and principles. China should propose international political and economic rules that will benefit most of the countries worldwide, including China itself. It should consider which existing rules should be maintained and which ones should be adjusted.  

The second one is the talent pool. If China wants to strengthen its voice in international organizations, it needs to have many skilled professionals, who are proficient in foreign languages, and familiar with the domestic and foreign conditions. However, it takes a long time to train these professionals.   

NF Daily: In the next decades, China and the U.S. may have to deal with many domestic problems. For example, the US needs to cope with its financial deficit and employment issues, while China has to deepen its reform by tackling some new changes, such as financial reform and urbanization. So in your opinion, how can we promote the Sino-US relations to make them more pragmatic rather than be indulged in talks and distrust? What kind of bilateral relations can contribute to the cooperation of the two countries in global governance? 

Prof. Wang: In fact, China and the U.S have many common interests in global affairs. Therefore, the two countries should expand their consensus or establish a sort of community of interest. China and the U.S. have had and will expand cooperation in the world, especially in Africa, Middle East, Latin America or Central Asia. When China helps some developing countries develop their economy, American economic interests there will also benefit. The U.S. maintains the stability of the Middle east and Africa, and it focuses on maritime safety, the fight against piracy, China will also benefit from these. Although the two sides will have competition, they have more common interests, especially in climate change, energy and other global issues. As for other issues that the U.S. concerns , such as cyber security, space security and Arctic security, the two countries share more common interests. 

 So far, the Sino-US relations have become more pragmatic. The cooperation and exchange activities of government, business, education and science communities between the two countries have increased, with the depth and breadth outstripping that between China and other major countries. In the future, the Sino-US economic ties will become closer. The bilateral trade volume will continue to rise. The investment of Chinese companies in the U.S. will grow significantly. The business community and local governments in the U.S. also welcome the Chinese companies to do so, and the market conditions are more regulated.    

By: Xie Meng, journalist of Nanfang Daily


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