event BI

Asan Beijing Forum

Talking Points for: Jaewoo Choo, Kyung Hee University
Session 4 – “A New Model of China-US Relations”


China-US relations: Will it ever merge?


Talking points:

  • Will China and the US ever find a ground where they can converge?
  • Where can they find it? In our life time?
  • Will “common interest greater than conflict” be the answer?
  • Their distrust is deeply rooted and becoming way too overwhelming.
  • Evident in their outlook for regional order.


I. Both looking ahead but with different perspectives

  • Hilary Clinton: “The United States can, must, and will lead in this new century.” (Council on Foreign Relations, Washington, DC, September 8, 2010).
  • Wen Jiabao: The policy of ‘hiding one’s talents and biding one’s time (Taoguan Yanhui)’ must remain in operation for at least another 100 years. (2004 Conference of Chinese Ambassadors, Beijing).

II. Seed of distrust

  • China’s encirclement phobia, historical
  • First, by the US : Alliance-building
  • Second, by the USSR : Vietnam, Mongolia, and Afghanistan
  • Third and now by the US again :
    Started with unsuccessful expedition into Central Asia;
    Now, with strategic rebalancing strategy with allies


III. Current state of distrust
China’s claims US’ claims
America will seek to constrain or even upset China’s rise. A long-term zero-sum game thinking still prevails in China
America’s democracy promotion agenda (sabotage-peaceful evolution) China’s mercantilist policies
U.S. arms sales to Taiwan China’s one-party governing system
U.S. taking advantage of the dollar China no longer a developing country
America’s international policies and actions, based on injustice and narrow U.S. self-interest Assuming a more hegemonic/ assertive/active approach
Intentions still unclear in US rebalancing strategy PLA weapons modernization targeting American platforms
IV. No common denominator in regional order outlook
China’s claims US’ claims
Goal Common development
Harmonious world
Preserve primacy
Value-based order
Values pursued Peace, development,Cooperation Democracy, freedom, market economy
Order system Multilateral/cooperative Alliance (bilateral)
Framework Open regionalism Alliance based regionalism
Principles Respect diversity
Democracy of IR
Shared value, commitment and international law
Center of the order ASEAN Allies
Members Inclusive Exclusive
Sources of stability Common interest and New security concept US leadership, primacy
Positive influence

V. Conclusion

  • China and the US will find it difficult to build a ground where they can converge.
  • Unless, the seed of distrust is completely exhumed.
  • “Common interest,” not the answer.
  • Interests out of the boundary estrange them.
  • Regional states compelled to choose.