When Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the President of the People’s Republic of China, came into office a little over one year ago, he faced several monumental challenges as the leader of the world’s largest and potentially most powerful country. The main issue plaguing Xi was China’s economy, which had gone into quite a slump despite being the world’s second largest. Over the past two years, Xi has made every decision to expand China’s influence and grow its global market – a decision which has been at odds with the intentions and wants of the world’s largest economy, the United States. On Wednesday, Xi Jinping met with several US diplomats, including Secretary of State John Kerry, at the sixth round of the United States-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) to discuss the ongoing issues between the world’s two economic juggernauts.
This year marks the 35th year of the establishment of diplomatic ties between the US and China, going back to the Nixon administration. While relations have improved over time, recent decisions by Xi have increased tensions between the US and China.
Xi has given orders to allow China to become more aggressive in the South Pacific, pushing against US allies such as South Korea and Japan, reaffirming his notion that “The vast Pacific Ocean has ample space to accommodate two great nations.”
— WSJ China Real Time (@ChinaRealTime) July 9, 2014
While Xi’s statement may be true, his unilateral decision making (powers granted to him by being both the General Secretary and President of China) has led the US to question the ideas of state sovereignty and the intentions of China in the near future.
On Tuesday, President Obama released a statement concerning the upcoming S&ED meeting in which he acknowledged the differences between the two nations, but also the need to create some similarities:
The United States and China will not always see eye-to-eye on every issue. That is to be expected for two nations with different histories and cultures. It also is why we need to build our relationship around common challenges, mutual responsibilities, and shared interests, even while we candidly address our differences.
President Obama is not attending the S&ED, but Secretary of State Kerry reiterated the President’s message on Wednesday with his opening remarks: “Let me emphasize to you today: The U.S. isn’t seeking to contain China.” Instead, Kerry emphasized that the US is simply seeking to make the South Pacific and China a more stable place, enabling the global market to continue to operate without hinderance or strife.
Disastrous consequences if China and US confront each other, Xi Jinping warns http://t.co/mtoWKuA3PT
— SCMP News (@SCMP_News) July 10, 2014
At first glance, Xi seemed to agree with Kerry and the US on Wednesday, saying, “A conflict between China and United States will definitely be a disaster for the two countries and the world.” However, Xi would go on to add that “We should respect and treat each other equally, and respect the other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and respect each other’s choice on the path of development,” seemingly hinting at the fact that he thinks the United States and China should stop interfering in each others’ affairs and just let it be.
With recent comparisons to Mao Zedong’s ideological warfare against his own people and China’s aggressive actions in the South Pacific, the US need be wary of its communications with China in the near future. While China is still currently the world’s second largest economy, it is projected to surpass the United States in the very near future. With increased economic power and its ownership of much of the US economy, any disruption in peaceful relations could end in much more disaster for the US than China.
Image via Wikimedia Commons