Ahead of Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington this week, former American Secretary of State Henry Kissinger has said US and China "must find" ways to limit their global competition to prevent it from spiraling into a conflict.
"If our two countries cooperate we can contribute to solving the problems of the world. But if we quarrel then it will make it difficult anywhere else to have progress," Kissinger told Chinese state run CCTV in an interview. "So I am a great advocate for close partnership between China and US. That is the challenge for the next period," said the veteran US diplomat, who played a key role in establishing close strategic ties between Washington and Beijing in the 1970s.
His "ping-pong" diplomacy paved the way for historic "ice breaking" visit of the then US President Richard Nixon to China in 1972. "But competition does not mean conflict. Competition means we can both benefit and we must find ways to limit this competition so that it doesn’t become conflict," Kissinger said.
During his visit from January 18, President Hu is scheduled to hold extensive talks with his US counterpart Barack Obama on wide range of global and bilateral issues, including the current round of tensions in the Korean Peninsula. They are also scheduled to discuss the growing engagement of US in Asia to rally round a number of countries, including India to contain China, the slow appreciation of Yuan against dollar reaping benefits to Chinese products and Beijing’s massive militarisation programme.
An opinion poll conducted by Chinese state media ahead of Hu’s visit said around 90 per cent of the Chinese public consider China-United States ties important. The survey conducted by China Daily and the Horizon Research Consultancy Group in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, from December 20 to December 30 said 54.3 per cent of the 1,443-respondents believe it is very important for China to maintain good relations with the US.
Nearly 60 per cent of respondents think the China-US relationship will stay stable while 23.8 per cent think it will get better and 10 per cent think it will worsen. The respondents think the topics most likely to be discussed during the two leaders' meeting will be the Korean Peninsula situation, the Taiwan issue and the bilateral trade imbalance.
The survey showed that 53 per cent of interviewees think the bilateral relations worsened in 2010, with 80.2 per cent of them blaming the US for the deterioration. On China-US economic and trade relations, around 70 per cent of respondents think the two nations are both competitors and partners.
Chinese media also gave wide coverage of US Secretary, Hillary’s Clinton’s candid assessment of the bilateral relations made in her speech on Sino-US ties in Washington on January 14 in which she said: "America and China have arrived at a critical juncture".
"A time when the choices we make, both big and small, will shape the trajectory of this relationship," she said. US and China need to deal with their differences wisely and responsibly, Clinton said, noting that "these are the things that will determine whether our relationship delivers on its potential in the years to come." She said the US and China have already come "a very long way" and have had three decades of "intense engagement" after many years of virtually no contact with each other.
"Today, our relationship has gone global. We debate and discuss nearly every major international issue in both bilateral dialogues and multilateral meetings. The breadth of our engagement will be on full display next week when President Obama welcomes President Hu to the White House," she said.
Clinton reminded the Chinese leadership that three decades of relations between the two countries is also the period of impressive growth for China.
China's GDP barely topped USD 100 billion in early 1970s but it is almost USD five trillion today, she said. Trade between the US and China used to be measured in the hundreds of millions of dollars and today, it surpasses USD 400 billion annually, she said. "The United States has welcomed this growth, and we have benefited from it. Today, our economies are entwined, and so are our futures," she underlined.