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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le Pacifique ne doit pas devenir un terrain d’affrontement

by Cynthia McKennon

The Pacific zone must not become a battleground

Translated Sunday 19 June 2016, by Wu Qimin, International Department of the People’s Daily

Lately, the pressure exerted by the US on China is relatively high, and it focuses on two fronts. First, the field of international trade: recently, the US company XpressWest announced the termination of its collaboration with China Railway International USA. Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China Railway. Previously, the US Department of Commerce announced the launch of an investigation into the Chinese company Huawei for alleged violations of US export restrictions. Then, the field of international politics: in the Conference of the Shangri-La Dialogue, which took place earlier this month, the "confrontation" between the two parties on the South China Sea has made the the headlines.

"The troubles never come alone," it is often said. Does this mean that China-US relations are on a downward slope? Does this mean that the route of the new China-US relations between big powers leads nowhere? The answer is probably not.

When one looks closely at China-US relations, we cannot simply observe as if using a microscope to enlarge a small grain of sand. It is important to look at their overall process, to feel the pulse of their development . In recent bilateral meetings, the "Meeting Sunnylands" to "Yingtai Night of Dialogue", or the "Autumn in the White House" at the Summit on Nuclear Security in March this year, the series of strategic discussions between the two leaders had a symbolic meaning, and set the tone for the development of bilateral relations. China and the US are working together to build new relations between big powers without conflict or confrontation, marked instead by mutual respect and win-win cooperation. Their efforts to avoid falling into what is called the "trap of Thucydides" is the only responsible choice to history and to the whole system of international relations.

On the occasion of the Eighth session of China-US strategic and economic dialogue, and in the Seventh round of Sino-US high-level consultations on cultural exchanges recently held in Beijing, the center of attention of some in the media to what one might call the number of examined differences is high, as usual. But what people should do more is to study the 278 results in many areas in the current round of dialogue and bilateral consultations, whether bilaterally, regionally or globally. If we were able to achieve these results, it is rather because there is a meeting point between the interests of both parties and their willingness to cooperate with each other.

Of course, we cannot avoid the difficulties and dissent. Apart from the American public as a whole, there is indeed a point of view that a developed China can be a threat. Perhaps this is due to a misunderstanding of China, perhaps this is due to a view of the world today with the old glasses of the cold war, or maybe even because some individual stakeholders have local political needs. As Thomas Graham, guest researcher at the Jackson Institute of Global Affairs at Yale University recently admitted, after the United States became a great power, they never experienced a period of multipolarity, and that is why they persist in their traditional concept of the past - always to first identify the main enemy, then to use it as a basis for their foreign policy.

But it should be clear that any taint of Cold War thinking is contrary to the trend of our times and to the fundamental interests of both peoples, and this includes interlocking risks of cooperation and conflict.

China and the United States differ in terms of historical traditions, social systems and development stage, and this inevitably leads to friction and discord. But between the largest developing country and the largest developed country in the world, if there is one thing that should not take place, it is another strategic mistake. The leaders of the major powers should, above all, demonstrate a high degree of responsibility to history and to the world, constantly maintain a high level of vigilance, and focus on cooperation and control differences.

The Chinese always say that "practice is the sole criterion for truth put to the test." In the process of development of Sino-US relations, there are a number of key achievements, showing that this road of probation is essential for new relations between big powers in the modern era. For example, during the last three years, bilateral trade and Sino-US bilateral investment reached a level never seen in history, cultural and local exchanges have never been so close, and cooperation in areas such as Internet, the law enforcement and military exchanges have made new progress. The two sides issued three joint statements on climate change, lobbying with the international community to achieve the historic "Paris Agreement". And on current topics such as the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula, the Iranian nuclear, Afghanistan, Syria, China and the United States have also maintained good communication and coordination.

"The vast area of the Pacific should not be an arena where various countries clash but should instead become an important platform for inclusive collaboration." This judgment made by Chinese President Xi Jinping has a distinct sense of the times. In comparison, look at the United States, who has never made any secret that they pursue global leadership, and has never seemed able to maintain an adequate level of stable introspection from the point of view of history. Certainly the law of the jungle can help. As part of a competition for concrete interests, the overall power of the ruling party enables it to garner some profits. But when looking at the evolution of history, which shows that "a just cause always benefits from powerful support, and as unjust cause has little support," we see that morality ultimately plays the decisive role.

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