By Zhong Sheng, People’s Daily
China and the United States are different in history, culture, social system and development path. They have encountered, are currently encountering, and will continue to encounter differences and disagreements. How to view these differences and responsibly manage the disagreements tests the wisdom of both countries.
During the summit meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in San Francisco, Chinese President Xi Jinping pointed out that China and the U.S. should manage disagreements effectively, and put forward it as one of the five pillars for China-U.S. relations.
Disagreements should not be a chasm that keeps the two countries apart. Instead, the two sides should look for ways to build bridges to help them walk toward each other, Xi said.
It is important that they appreciate each other’s principles and red lines, and refrain from flip-flopping, being provocative, and crossing the lines. They should have more communications, more dialogues and more consultations, and calmly handle their differences as well as accidents, said Xi.
Xi’s remarks provide crucial guidance for China and the U.S. to efficiently manage disagreements.
Difference and disagreement in itself is no cause for alarm; the key is to have the vision and layout to seek common ground and resolve differences.
For 22 years, there were estrangement and antagonism between China and the U.S. Converging interests enabled the two countries to rise above differences and make the handshake across the Pacific Ocean.
The Shanghai Communique released in 1972 ended the long-standing isolation between China and the U.S. and launched the process of normalizing the China-U.S. relations. It showed that the two major countries with different social systems were willing to coexist peacefully.
Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger once praised the Shanghai Communique as a new example of diplomatic document that respects the different views of both countries, and this preservation of divergent opinions adds greater significance to the document.
Over 50 years ago, both sides were able to correctly view their differences and responsibly manage their disagreements. Today, it is imperative to show similar wisdom and courage.
Difference and disagreement in itself is no cause for alarm; the key is not to let them overshadow the relationship between China and the U.S.
Although the two countries are different in history, culture and social system and have embarked on different development paths, they have made many achievements－$760 billion of annual bilateral trade and over $260 billion of two-way investment, 284 pairs of sister provinces/states and sister cities, and over 300 scheduled flights every week and over five million travels every year at peak time.
Despite the differences, the two peoples are both kind, friendly, hardworking and down-to-earth. They both love their countries, their families and their lives, and they both are friendly toward each other and are interested in each other.
It is the convergence of many streams of goodwill and friendship that has created a strong current surging across the vast Pacific Ocean, it is the reaching out to each other by the peoples that has time and again brought China-U.S. relations from a low ebb back onto the right track. History has repeatedly proved that China and the U.S. are capable of rising above differences and managing disagreements.
In recent years, some people in the U.S. have been viewing China through a biased lens, magnifying the differences and disagreements between China and the U.S., and defining their relationship solely in terms of competition. Such practices are irresponsible to history, to the people, and to the world.
China remains undeterred by any containment or suppression, and is resolute in defending its legitimate interests, upholding its principles, and safeguarding its bottom line.
China consistently engages in planning for the China-U.S. relationship with a focus on the future of humanity and Planet Earth. The country is firmly committed to managing differences and addressing sensitive issues in a constructive manner, striving to foster a stable, healthy and sustainable relationship with the U.S.
Mutual respect and equal treatment provide an important foundation for China and the U.S. to effectively manage disagreements. In an atmosphere of mutual respect, the two heads of state had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on strategic and overarching issues critical to the direction of China-U.S. relations and on major issues affecting world peace and development in San Francisco.
Xi elaborated on the essential features of Chinese modernization and its significance, China’s development prospects, and its strategic intention. He also elaborated on China’s principled position on the Taiwan question, and made clear China’s position on issues related to economy, trade, and technology.
The summit meeting in San Francisco reached more than 20 deliverables in such areas as political affairs and foreign policy, people-to-people exchange, global governance, and military and security. These achievements demonstrate the significance of Xi’s proposal for “more communications, more dialogues and more consultations” between China and the U.S.
Observing the basic norms of international relations and the three China-U.S. joint communiques is vital for managing differences and preventing conflict. It serves as the most important guardrail and safety net for China-U.S. relations. Seventy-eight years ago, China and the U.S. initiated together with others the San Francisco Conference, which helped found the United Nations. Starting from San Francisco, the postwar international order was established.
During the San Francisco meeting, the two presidents endorsed the efforts of their respective diplomatic teams to discuss principles related to China-U.S. relations since the Bali meeting and the common understandings arising from those discussions. They stressed the importance of all countries treating each other with respect and finding a way to live alongside each other peacefully, and of maintaining open lines of communication, preventing conflict, upholding the United Nations Charter, cooperating in areas of shared interest, and responsibly managing competitive aspects of the relationship. These seven points of common understanding are very important in that they provide a solid foundation for deeper discussions going forward.
The San Francisco meeting between the two presidents showcased the willingness of the two countries to manage differences in a constructive way. It is crucial for stabilizing the China-U.S. relationship.
Moving forward, both countries should uphold mutual respect, seek common ground while resolving differences, and remain unperturbed by individual incidents or particular comments, thus jointly ensuring that the giant ship of China-U.S. relations stays on the right course
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy and international affairs.)