BEIJING, July 10 (Xinhua) -- China-U.S. ties, one of the world's most important bilateral relationships, are faced with severe challenges, which came at an ill-timed moment in a world battered by a ferocious pandemic and its economic fallout.
Recognizing the severity, former diplomats and officials, scholars and commentators from the two countries and beyond held a discussion via video link on Thursday to exchange views on how to steer China-U.S. relations back onto the right track of sustainable and healthy development.
NEW COLD WAR?
The China-U.S. relationship is faced with the most severe challenge since bilateral diplomatic ties were forged 41 years ago, according to experts at the think tanks and media forum, who cited tensions in such areas as trade and technology.
Meanwhile, participants including former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, former Chinese Minister of the State Council Information Office Zhao Qizheng, and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, who witnessed and contributed to the development of China-U.S. relations, disputed thoughts that the two countries are doomed to decouple or to be locked in a new Cold War.
The opinion that the China-U.S. relationship is unable to return to its previous level should not mean the two countries would have to start all over again regardless of history, and worse, impractical decoupling, Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi said when addressing the forum.
The comment by some Americans that the U.S engagement policy toward China over the past decades was a failure or that the United States was ripped off in its cooperation "disrespects history and conflicts with the fact," Wang said.
According to Campbell, most people are focusing on the competitive elements in the U.S.-China relationship.
Similarly, many noted that China has become a central issue in the U.S. presidential campaign where Republicans and Democrats are engaged in a race to see who can bash China harder.
This, Zhao said, has prompted anti-China sentiment among Americans, adding that misunderstanding and estrangement could constitute a major obstacle in the development of bilateral relations.
Calling the some 100 days in the run-up to the U.S. presidential vote critical, Zhou Mingwei, former head of the China Foreign Languages Publishing Administration, urged the two sides to better handle their relations.
Wang made three suggestions on how to bring China-U.S. relations back onto the right track -- opening all channels of dialogue, making lists of interactions, as well as focusing and cooperating on a COVID-19 response.
He specified the lists of interactions as being about cooperation areas, dialogue and issues that need proper management.
"It should identify the few tough issues that the two countries have little chance to agree on in the near future," Wang said.
"The two sides should manage them well in the spirit of seeking common ground while putting aside differences, so as to minimize their impact on and harm to the overall China-U.S. relations," he said.
Rudd highlighted the importance of strategic dialogue and proper management of differences in seeking a "sustainable" future for China-U.S. relations.
China and the United States should have an absolute understanding of the other's red lines and core interests, he said.
Campbell suggested the United States and China balance the "overriding" competition with cooperation starting from practical cooperation in small areas.
Meanwhile, he urged the two countries to continue with people-to-people engagement and make sure their youths have the opportunity to study in the other country's universities and get to know each other.
CHINA'S POLICY CONSISTENT
While China hawks in the United States are trying their best to portray China as an enemy, China remains committed to a highly stable and consistent policy toward the United States.
It is never China's intention to challenge or replace the United States, nor to be in a full confrontation, Wang stressed.
China, with goodwill and sincerity, is willing to grow the bilateral relations, he said.
However, China has every reason to defend its sovereignty, security and development interests, safeguard the achievements that its people have made through hard work, and reject any bullying and injustice imposed on it, he added.
Zhao said that throughout the ups and downs in China-U.S. relations, China has maintained that cooperation is the best choice for both sides.
China is not interested in fighting a new Cold War, he added.
Fu Ying, a veteran diplomat and chairperson of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, said most of the existing forces dragging down China-U.S. relations are in the United States.
However, Fu said, China needs to be clearer about its boundaries and redlines, and make more efforts to improve its international image and make itself understood to the rest of the world. Enditem