At his Senate confirmation hearings, John Kerry, who is expected to be confirmed as U.S. Secretary of State, outlined his expectations for the U.S.-China relationship, acknowledging that while problems persist, he hopes to see more cooperation on a number of global issues. From UPI:
Kerry said he “could envision a way in which China could play a much more significant role as a partner in any number of efforts globally. … We will be competitors in the economic marketplace, but shouldn’t be viewed as adversaries in some way that diminishes our ability to cooperate in a number of things.
“China is cooperating with us now on Iran. I think there might be more we could perhaps do with respect to North Korea. There could be more we could do in other parts of the Far East. And hopefully, we can build those relationships that will further that transformation.
Kerry also noted China’s role in Africa as an area where the U.S. needs to step up efforts to compete. From the same article:
“Now with respect to China and Africa, China is all over Africa — I mean, all over Africa. And they’re buying up long-term contracts on minerals, on … you name it,” Kerry said. “And there’re some places where we’re not in the game, folks. And I hate to say it. And we got to get in. But it takes a little bit of resourcing. Believe me, somebody’s paying for those folks to be over there. And somebody’s investing in their investment of time.
The Chinese government, for its part, responded favorably to Kerry’s comments. From a Xinhua article:
“The Chinese side places great importance on developing China-U.S. relations,” [Foreign Ministry spokesperson] Hong told a regular press conference.
“We are ready to work with the U.S. side to further advance the development of the China-U.S. cooperative partnership and explore the development of a new relationship between major powers,” Hong said.
“China and the United States should jointly play a constructive role in maintaining peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region,” Hong said.
Kerry’s predecessor, Hillary Clinton, discussed U.S.-China relations from a business perspective in an interview with BloombergBusinessweek. Responding to a question about what leverage the U.S. has in fighting intellectual property theft by China – an issue that Kerry noted was a remaining hurdle in the relationship – Clinton said:
We have leverage in opening our markets or not. Permitting foreign direct investment or not. Having a relationship that is economically robust within a broader strategic relationship. Which gives validation to Chinese business that is of benefit to them as they go around selling in the world. So some of it is very tangible. Like, OK, you’re going do that to us, then we’re going to do that to you. You know, you slap tariffs on our steel, we’re going to slap tariffs on your steel.
Yeah, checkmate. And is that good for anybody? Or let’s figure out how we are going to have rules that we both live by. This is always a work in progress. We have a mature, developed economy that has evolved over 150 years. And we still are working out issues that are yet to be resolved. So when you think about how far China has come in such a short period of time, and as you rightly point out, having every incentive to take advantage of whatever they can for their own benefit, I don’t hold that against them. I just hold it against us if we’re not out there pushing back.