There is no doubt that the relations between the United States and Asia are complicated and controversial. Literally, there are two worlds, which are completely different in their culture, social structure, economy and political systems. Moreover, the recent history created an additional tension between these parts of the world. In particular, the relations between the U.S. and China are mostly based on the framework, which was established during the 20th century. While these two powers have serious economic and political problems, each of them realizes that these issues cannot be resolved without the other’s side participation. Nowadays, the greatest challenge in U.S.-China relations is to establish the conditions of the long-term trust and friendship.
The book: Debating China: The U.S.-China Relationship in Ten Conversations (2014), edited by Nina Hachigian, provides the readers with the wide perspective on the issue and shows numerous points of view. According to Kenneth Lieberthal and Jisi Wang, the authors of an essay “An Overview of the U.S.-China Relationship”, which is the first chapter of Hachigian’s book, the U.S. and China established formal diplomatic relations in 1979 (2). Since that time, the confrontation based on the political background was reduced and both nations developed the strategies of passive defensiveness. As long as China is the country that grows in a rapid and unstoppable manner, it will definitely change the current order. Hachigian states that America wants to ensure that China’s rise is not destabilizing, in part through encouraging its participation in the rules-based international order (xiv). The author suggests building the new type of cooperation, the so-called “tactical trust” that could aid in developing long-term, strategic trust, over time (Hachigian xiv). This idea reveals that the connections, which are already established, are not enough – there is no real trust between the two nations.
Although the valuable steps towards cooperation have already been made, these two most powerful countries of the world remain suspicious. Lieberthal and Wang agree that the present U.S.-China relations have several positive characteristics. These relations are mature, dense, and expanding. The countries interact very frequently and extensively: “the two governments conduct more than 60 formal dialogues per year” (Lieberthal and Wang 2). In order to establish cooperation, the U.S. and China have already developed widespread and generally effective ties at an institutional and personal level. Almost every U.S. cabinet department deals with its Chinese counterpart every week in order to manage the existing issues (Lieberthal and Wang 2). Still, these relations are distrustful, as both countries feel the lack of trust in the long-term intentions toward each other. It is understandable, as there is “a tendency in each society to blame the other side for its own internal difficulties” (Lieberthal and Wang 9). Together with China’s ambitions and the United States’ desire to control all the global processes in the world, this issue creates a certain field of problems and misunderstandings.
In conclusion, the general situation is rather positive. The U.S.-Asia relations, in general, and the U.S.-China relations, in particular, are highly interconnected. Although these relations should be based on equality, there is still a certain asymmetry. The fact that both countries have common interests in many areas offers hope that the United States and China will even increase their cooperation. Of course, there will always be some controversial issues. Most decisions, made by China’s government, will definitely affect the United States’ foreign policy, economic well-being, and security. In the same way, China cannot take any measures against the U.S. without injuring itself. Nowadays, the crucial task for both nations is to create an atmosphere of a real, long-term mutual understanding and trust.
- Hachigian, Nina. Introduction. Debating China: The U.S.-China Relationship in Ten
Conversations, edited by N. Hachigian. Oxford University Press. 2014.
- Lieberthal, Kenneth, and Jisi Wang. “An Overview of the U.S.-China Relationship”. Debating China: The U.S.-China Relationship in Ten Conversations, edited by N. Hachigian. Oxford University Press. 2014, pp. 1-20.