Washington, D.C. — Today, as President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping are scheduled to meet next week on the sidelines of the third Nuclear Security Summit in the Netherlands, the Center for American Progress released an analysis from Senior Fellow Nina Hachigian on the current state of the U.S.-China relationship based on the findings of her recent book, Debating China: The U.S.-China Relationship in Ten Conversations.
The summit will highlight an issue on which the United States and China have cooperated to a degree in the past: nuclear proliferation. But the bilateral meeting will also cover more touchy subjects, including the current crisis in Ukraine, cyber theft, and regional territorial disputes. Such is the ever-dual nature of U.S.-China relations in the modern era.
“While Washington disagrees with Beijing on many issues, the summit highlights a critical area where we have to work with China to make meaningful progress,” said Nina Hachigian, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress. “Building up a matrix of international rules and effective organizations through which the United States, China, and others can cooperate is the best approach to take.”
The United States and China cooperate at the working level despite the fact that longstanding and seemingly intractable differences divide them. We are thus left with this fundamental question: How far can the United States and China push cooperation when they remain opposed and distrustful on deeply important issues? Cooperating in the face of suspicion and differences is frustrating and hard, but choosing not to cooperate is far worse. The only solution is to keep trying. Global warming, crime, disease, nuclear proliferation, and poverty will only get worse without Sino-American cooperation and the positive involvement of many other nations.
What is “new” in the “new model of major power relations,” the latest framework for the U.S.-China relationship, is the web of international rules and institutions that channel rivalry, bound disputes, and promote cooperation. While the United States and China work to resolve their differences, they can still take steps forward to improve lives on both sides of the Pacific.