China-U.S. relations are at an important stage of mutual adjustment. We should ease thisprocess by building up mutual understanding and people-to-people exchanges.
A senior American scholar asked me what the Chinese dislike about the United States. Isought views from people around me. Among the responses, there were both heartfeltpraises and sharp criticism.
Many Chinese admire the achievements of the U.S. and strength of Americans. On theother hand, the Chinese have reservations about America’s bias on China and hold theiropinion on its foreign policy. Many Chinese people hope the U.S. will behave moreresponsibly in promoting peace and development in the world.
The differences of perception have something to do with the “structural contradictions”between the two countries. The most prominent manifestations of the structuralcontraction are the negation and stereotypes on Chinese political system.
To many Americans, China focused on collective interests, lack of democracy and humanrights, and thus “not correct”; in the eyes of many Chinese, the Americans respect theirvalues, tend to engage in political evolution in other countries, and thus need to remainvigilant to it. Such simplistic, pattern recognition, inevitably affect each other’s views onmany issues. The so-called Sino-US “strategic mutual doubt”, to a certain extent, alsostems from this.
A newer cause of structural contradictions between the two countries is that the U.S. hasfelt the impact from China’s rise. It is also concerned that China is challenging U.S.-dominated rules and order. What the Americans care about is not necessarily the rightsand wrongs of sovereignty disputes but the imagined question of whether China is drivingthe U.S. out of Asia.
Another interesting recent chapter in this story is America’s hesitance about the AsianInfrastructure Investment Bank, an international financial institution initiated by China.
Actually, what China intends to do is to provide a new public good to help developingcountries in Asia and beyond to overcome the funding bottleneck of infrastructuraldevelopment. But the U.S. sees the AIIB as an attempt to start a new order outside theU.S.-dominated global economic and financial system.
The U.S. and China felt like they were in the same boat when they had to fight the 2008-2009 financial crisis together. Now, the world economy is far from fully stabilized after thecrisis. There is every reason for the two countries to cooperate and to meet challengestogether instead of undermining each other.
China and the U.S. are both big and complex countries. China-U.S. relations are at animportant stage of mutual adjustment. We should ease this process by building up mutualunderstanding and people-to-people exchanges. If China and the U.S. can enhancecooperation and promote better understanding between our peoples, the whole worldwould benefit.
This article is excerpted and edited from How Chinese and Americans Are MisreadingEach Other — And Why It Matters, which is published on the World Post. A Chineseversion of this article appears on People’s Daily.The author is Chairperson of ForeignAffairs Committee, National People’s Congress.