Sino-US cooperation key to peace, says Beijing

Cooperation between China and the US is the only correct choice to maintain and promote peace and prosperity, Beijing has said in a measured response to Washington naming it a strategic rival.

Noting that it was not surprising for the two major powers to have differences, Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said yesterday: "These should be dealt with in a constructive manner on the basis of respecting each other's core interests and major concerns."

"We urge the US to stop intentionally distorting China's strategic intentions and to abandon outmoded notions such as the Cold War mentality and zero-sum game, otherwise it will only harm itself or others," she said at a regular press briefing.

The US had, on Monday, put out a National Security Strategy report that said "the revisionist powers of China and Russia", Iran and North Korea, as well as terror groups, "are actively competing against the United States and our allies and partners".

Russia also responded yesterday, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying the Kremlin cannot agree that Russia poses a threat to the US.

"We cannot agree with an attitude that sees our country as a threat to the United States," he added. "At the same time, there are some modestly positive aspects, in particular, the readiness to cooperate in areas that correspond to American interests."

The US report had pointed out that "China seeks to displace the United States in the Indo-Pacific region, expand the reaches of its state-driven economic model and reorder the region in its favour". It added: "For decades, US policy was rooted in the belief that support for China's rise and for its integration into the post-war international order would liberalise China. Contrary to our hopes, China expanded its power at the expense of the sovereignty of others."

Said Ms Hua in response: "China has always taken the road of peaceful development and unswervingly pursues the strategy of opening up to the world with mutual benefits and win-win results."

She noted that China's development depended on the efforts of its own people and its mutually beneficial cooperation with other countries. "China will never develop itself at the expense of the interests of other countries, and at the same time, will never give up its legitimate rights and interests," she said.

The Chinese embassy in Washington, in a statement on its website, urged the US to seek common ground while respecting differences. China was willing to exist peacefully with other countries including the US, the statement said, adding: "But the US ought to adapt to and accept China's development."

Chinese media and commentators were of the view that the US' naming of China as a strategic competitor was nothing new.

China Daily noted that then president George W. Bush had also done so but had, over time, come to see China as a "responsible stakeholder", "paving the way for years of stability in Sino-US relations".

The more nationalistic Global Times, however, was of the view that the US "has now adopted a different view towards US-China relations". In an editorial, it said while previous administrations might focus on collaboration to mitigate differences, the current one "may input more resources to rival and pressure China, in the hope that Beijing will seek cooperation with Washington on Washington's terms".

Still, international relations expert Su Hao of China Foreign Affairs University urged against "overly interpreting" the report, noting that it also said the US needed to cooperate with China. "Overall, the report was not very forceful, offensive or confrontational (towards China)," said Professor Su. It is "a manifestation of the relatively stable China-US ties and will not affect these ties", he said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 20, 2017, with the headline 'Sino-US cooperation key to peace, says Beijing'. Print Edition | Subscribe