China and U.S. posture toward ‘win-win cooperation’
China and the United States appeared to have made progress in their relationship and at least temporarily put aside points of contention during U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s March 2017 visit to Beijing, according to assorted media accounts.
“The joint interests of China and the United States far outweigh the differences, and cooperation is the only correct choice for us both,” Chinese President Xi Jinping said, according to China’s Foreign Ministry.
The relationship is guided by “nonconflict, nonconfrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation,” Tillerson said at a news conference with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, according to accounts by The New York Times newspaper and the English-language China Daily.
Xi praised Tillerson’s endeavors at diplomacy during the transition, according to various media accounts. “You said that China-U.S. relations can only be friendly. I express my appreciation for this,” Xi said. (Pictured: Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, meets with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in mid-March 2017.)
Moreover, Xi said his take on his communications via telephone with U.S. President Donald Trump were positive, Reuters reported. “We both believe that China-U.S. cooperation henceforth is the direction we are both striving for. We are both expecting a new era for constructive development,” Xi said.
Tillerson said Trump puts a “very high value on the communications that have already occurred” between the two leaders. “And he looks forward to enhancing that understanding in the opportunity for a visit in the future,” Tillerson said. “We know that through further dialogue we will achieve a greater understanding that will lead to a strengthened — strengthening of the ties between China and the United States and set the tone for our future relationship of cooperation.”
“The U.S.-China relationship is too complicated to be encapsulated by a single label and doing so can lead to misunderstanding and potential miscalculation,” Bonnie Glaser, director of the China Power Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “China’s definition of ‘new model of major country relations’ includes respect for Chinese core interests, but China has never clearly defined either what ‘respect’ means or what its ‘core interests’ include. China has also not made clear what core U.S. interests it is willing to respect.”
Agreeing to a constructive relationship “is good enough for both countries to do business,” she said, indicating that perhaps a broader label is not needed, the Daily Caller News Foundation reported.
Some experts speculated that the secretary of state’s comments could have been spurred by China agreeing behind the scenes to concessions in key areas of interest to the U.S.
“China has long been advocating this, but the United States has been reluctant to accept the point of ‘mutual respect,’ ” Jin Canrong, a foreign relations expert at Renmin University of China, told The Washington Post newspaper. “Tillerson’s comment will be very warmly welcomed by China.”
Even if the precise and full meaning of the exchange was not clarified, Tillerson’s visit was important for both sides, William Cohen, a former U.S. defense secretary, told Reuters.
“The symbolism here is going to be as important as the substance,” he told Reuters during the Beijing conference. “Because the substance will come later.”