US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visits China on Saturday right after the stop in China by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross from Sunday to Monday. Their successive visits mark the prelude to US President Donald Trump's state visit to China reportedly in November.
When it comes to the two secretaries' China trip, many Western reports have heavily focused on two thorny issues facing China and the US - the North Korean nuclear issue and trade relations. But apparently Trump will refer to more than two issues in his visit.
This year has been eventful in terms of international relations, but still sufficiently stable thanks to the overall constant Sino-US relationship playing a key role as a buttress. Frictions between China and the US have not undermined bilateral relations. While the two countries have experienced numerous problems, cooperation remains the theme. The major-power relationship built on this basis has affected how people look at international relations and brought a sense of stability to the world.
The nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula seems to be evolving toward a showdown and the bellicose exchange of threats between Washington and Pyongyang is devouring room to maneuver. But there is still a last hope as long as China stands in between. Assume that China stops playing a buffer role and it will just be a matter of time before the US and North Korea start a real war.
So it is in the economic and trade front. As protectionism surges, the US has openly bashed major economies and even conducted a Section 301 probe into China.
But the two largest trading partners are not in a trade war with each other as expected. This inspires many people to remain optimistic that the international trading system will be sustained.
Global issues must be solved, but not hastily. There must be perseverance and patience to seek solutions. This view adopted by many people is shaped by Sino-US relations. The patient consultations between the US and China over disputes have impressed the world.
The China-US summit won't supply a panacea for the nuclear crisis or trade disputes. But the two leaders' reciprocal visits have consolidated the belief of both peoples and the whole world that major issues must be solved through cooperation. They have helped find the common grounds of the two countries and thus enormously reduced the risks of strategic miscalculations accumulated due to impatience and lack of strategic trust.
Many issues in front of China and the US are impossible to solve, but still they need solutions made through cooperation. Since Trump took office, the way that China and the US have adapted to each other serves the two countries' interests well.
Sino-US relations need to be reality-based. It's critical for bilateral ties in the 21st century to figure out where China's boundary lies with regard to bilateral disputes.
Is the China-US relationship in good shape or not working well? We prefer the former. But what's more important is to what extent the relationship is predictable and whether the two countries have instruments to deal with problems that arise.
Since Trump took power, Sino-US relations have seen rising predictability and the two countries have been more capable in managing problems. What we want most is that the tendency can be strengthened and cemented with the two US secretaries' China trip and Trump's state visit to China.