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UPDATED: July 2, 2014 NO. 27 JULY 3, 2014
Exploring a New Paradigm
Henry Kissinger (former U.S. Secretary of State): The United States and China must play a vital role, particularly in charting a constructive pattern of relations with each other. The history of great-power interactions offers a cautionary tale in which a rising power and an established power fell into a dynamic of confrontation. In our age, such a course would prove disastrous for both sides. It would polarize the international system and preclude progress on key issues. It would encourage other nations to try to exploit the rivalry between China and the United States.

President Xi and President Barack Obama have recognized these dangers and have affirmed the commitment to a visionary alternative first put forward by President Xi, which he called a "new type of major-power relations." This would allow for a focus on common interests, a frank discussion of differences when they arise and a commitment to pursuing competition through political, economic and cultural avenues. It is a wise vision calling for concerted elaboration from both sides. Success will be a vital contribution to a peaceful 21st century. For all these reasons, I have strongly favored the evolution of a trans-Pacific partnership in which China and the United States cooperate with other nations for a truly global world order, in which every region is a full participant and in which each country can feel that its experiences and aspirations have been accounted for.

Ma Zhengang (Vice Chairman of the China Public Diplomacy Association): China acknowledges the role the United States has played in keeping the Asia-Pacific region stable since the end of World War II, though some of its moves have had a negative impact on China. Under its "pivot-to-Asia" policy, the United States has taken a series of steps such as increasing military deployment, strengthening ties with its allies and making "new friends," some of which are obviously designed to hedge China's rise. The Chinese Government, however, has not expressed strong opposition to this policy. In China's view, greater U.S. involvement in the Asia-Pacific region is understandable in light of the ongoing shift of the global political and economic center of gravity to the region. It is our hope that the United States can help promote regional peace and stability and engage in positive interactions with China.

Regretfully, we have noticed that some U.S. officials' deeds are inconsistent with what they have told China. For instance, at the recent Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel accused China of taking provocative actions and destabilizing the Asia-Pacific region. These accusations are false. Take the Diaoyu Islands for instance. When the two countries normalized diplomatic relations in the 1970s, Chinese and Japanese leaders agreed to shelve disputes over the islands. In the more than 40 years that followed, no major clashes took place. Before Japan "nationalized" the islands in 2012, China repeatedly warned that the Chinese would react strongly against Japan's attempts to change the status quo. Japan, however, refused to heed China's plea. Given Japan's violation of the two countries' consensus, I think China has reason to take measures to defend its sovereignty. The United States should have known this. Instead, it blamed China out of its own strategic needs.

The United States also blames China for creating an air defense identification zone in the East China Sea "unilaterally." Indeed, things might work out better if we had consulted with others. But it should be made clear that as a step taken by a sovereign country, China's creation of the zone should be free from other countries' interference. Both the United States and Japan have long established such zones. The Chinese do not see why China cannot do the same. Moreover, provocations by Japan, the Philippines and Viet Nam against China have apparently intensified since Obama's visit to Asia in April. That's why the Chinese suspect that the United States might have done something under the counter.

Some say China has become more assertive in recent years. The fact is that in the past the country was so weak that it was often unable to defend its territorial integrity. As a result, from the 1960s to the 1980s, many islands in the South China Sea were seized by other countries. Now that China has become stronger, it is more confident about safeguarding its own sovereignty and security and will no longer allow others to grab its territories.

Email us at: yanwei@bjreview.com

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