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Politicians, experts expect better U.S.-China relations

GENEVA, Jan. 30 : Political leaders were united on the last day of the week-long virtual Davos Agenda meeting in their call for more collaboration and trust-building efforts between the United States and China, which they said will not only benefit the two countries but also the entire world.

Meanwhile, experts on international relations from multiple countries also highlighted the importance of U.S.-China relations and expected their ties to improve.

VOICES FROM DAVOS
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called the U.S.-China relations the most important bilateral ties in the world, saying that it will be never too late to reset the tone of their interactions, particularly with the new administration in the United States. Lee said it “is going to be a very big problem” for the Americans to see China “as a challenger, almost like a threat.”

The new U.S. administration is an opportunity to steer the relationship towards safer waters, and amidst U.S. President Joe Biden’s many urgent preoccupations, “the U.S.-China relationship should become a key strategic priority,” he said, stressing the need for the two sides to find common ground and work together.
At an online session titled “U.S. Foreign Policy: The Outlook from Washington,” politicians also discussed the damaging effects of COVID-19 on mounting geopolitical tensions, saying that the United States needs to reconsider its position towards China.

Kirsten E. Gillibrand, U.S. senator from New York, said that she is optimistic that the new U.S. administration will make progress in its relations with both Russia and China, adding that “we need far more engagement that is productive with both of those countries.” Adam Kinzinger, a congressman from Illinois, said that it’s crucial to avoid open conflict with China. Arancha Gonzalez Laya, minister of Foreign Affairs European Union & Cooperation of Spain, said at the session that “above all, we need to avoid open confrontation” between the United States and China.

She expressed her hope that the Biden administration will facilitate collaboration at the World Trade Organization to update the rules of global trade as necessary with China’s input, and that geopolitical tensions will not interfere with efforts to combat climate change. Fu Ying, vice-chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress of China, told the meeting on Friday that China has no intention of vying for world dominance but wants to cooperate and maintain peace. There are elements of competition in the relationship with America, she said, describing the relationship as a combination of “cooperation and competition.”

“The new Biden administration needs time to think about the ways it can cooperate with China and where it needs to avoid conflicts,” she said, adding that how China and the United States define their relationship is important not just to both countries but to the world.

EXPECTATIONS
Carl Fey, professor of international business with Aalto University in Helsinki, Finland, voiced hope that the United States and China would take advantage of the emerging opportunities under a new U.S. president and work to reset business relations, which, if successful, would be beneficial for the whole world. The former dean of Nottingham University Business School China noted that environmental issues, such as climate change, would be an area where the two sides can hopefully find common ground.

David J. Firestein, president and CEO of the George H. W. Bush Foundation for U.S.-China Relations, said recently that the United States has some great friendships and alliances across the globe, but there is no country more inextricably bound up with America’s destiny and future, certainly economically speaking, than China. Noting that the two countries need each other, Firestein said, “Whether we like it or not, we have to get this relationship right, because the consequences of getting it wrong are unpleasant and far-reaching.”
Ivan Timofeyev, programs director at the Russian International Affairs Council, said it is a common hope that the U.S.-China relations can be normalized as the two countries are the biggest economies in the world.

Any crises within the U.S.-China relations will bring about worldwide impact, the Russian scholar said. Though competitions between the two countries will continue, there is a chance that their relations can be normalized, Timofeyev said, citing the decree signed by Biden that stopped calling the coronavirus by a name of one country or city as it was a signal to China that the virus will not be politicized. Bambang Suryono, chairman of Indonesia’s Asia Innovation Study Center, viewed the normalization of U.S.-China relations as important to the peace and stability in Asia, saying he expects the new U.S. administration to reset positive contacts and talks with China, especially on issues concerning the livelihood of both peoples.

Suryono’s remarks were echoed by Norhan el-Sheikh, professor of political science with Cairo University, who said the stability of their relations bear on the stability and security of the world. The two sides are seeking their own development and long-term interests, but the difference is that China works for joint growth and win-win results while America prefers to pursue hegemony, the Egyptian expert said. As for the U.S.-China trade tensions, Chris Lipscombe, president of the New Zealand China Cross-border Electronic Commerce Foundation, said the world is “anxious to see how the new U.S. administration address that tension.”

The recent positive development of the New Zealand-China Free Trade Agreement talk has sent “a signal of confidence” for countries to move forward on trade issues, Lipscombe said. (Xinhua)

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