The U.S.-China relationship, said U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, “is the most consequential in the world today, period, and it will do much to determine the shape of the 21st century.”
The sheer size of China and its economy, coupled with the rapid and significant changes that are taking place there, means that the relationship has vast potential.
America’s China policy is built on two pillars, said Secretary Kerry: Constructively managing the differences and just as constructively coordinating joint efforts on a range of common interests.
An area of concern in U.S. relations with China includes the mounting tension in the South China Sea where the U.S. is urging all parties to exercise self-restraint and peaceful resolution of disputes. Another point of contention is cyber security. The U.S. strongly objects to any cyber-enabled theft of trade secrets and other sensitive information from U.S. companies.
With regard to human rights, the U.S. will always advocate for all countries to permit their citizens to express their grievances freely, publicly, peacefully, and without fear of retribution. That’s why the U.S. has spoken out about the pro-democracy demonstrations in Hong Kong and human rights issues elsewhere in China.
While these differences will continue to test the relationship, said Secretary Kerry, they should not prevent the U.S. and China from acting cooperatively in other areas, including economically. Today, American and Chinese businesses exchange nearly $600 billion in goods and services every single year and mutual investments are close to $100 billion.
Beyond commercial relations, the U.S. and China are focused on climate change and pursuing new forms of energy that are less harmful to the environment. Moreover, the U.S. is encouraged by China’s efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation in Iran and denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
In Afghanistan, China has been helpful in supporting Afghan peace and reconciliation. And in Africa, China has committed $130 million to help address the Ebola crisis.
The U.S. and China have an opportunity to demonstrate how a major power and an emerging power can cooperate to serve the interests of both, and in doing so, improve the prospects for stability, prosperity, and peace around the world.