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Sharing a great responsibility

Publication Date : 07-12-2013


Chinese President Xi Jinping and US Vice-President Joe Biden have agreed that China and the United States should strengthen dialogue and cooperation to build a new model of major-country relations. During Biden's just concluded two-day visit to China, the two leaders also exchanged in-depth views on a range of international and regional issues of common concern.

Sino-US relations are moving in direction outlined by President Xi and US President Barack Obama during their summit at Sunnylands, California, earlier this year. With agreements on several fronts, a round of Strategic and Economic Dialogue and a series of bilateral cultural exchanges, Sino-US relations have made remarkable progress. New Sino-US working groups on climate change and cybersecurity have become operational, and the two sides have launched a new cooperation mechanism in military matters, which for long has been a sensitive issue in Sino-US ties.

Despite the existence of numerous disagreements and disputes, China and the US have declared that they would not engage in direct confrontations or conflicts with each other. Such shared aspirations have laid a solid foundation for the two sides to enhance mutual trust and maintain stability in the Asia-Pacific region in the era of China's peaceful rise.

The meeting that the two countries' presidents held soon after they took office (Obama for the second term) created conditions for strengthening interpersonal trust. During their Sunnylands summit in June, Xi and Obama discussed a series of bilateral, regional and global issues of common concern in an amiable manner.

The high-level bond that developed at the summit has helped build closer links between the two countries, and prompted them to pay greater attention to each other's domestic development. For example, the US has followed with keen interest China's reform and development program mapped out by the Third Plenary Session of the Communist Party of China's 18th Central Committee in November.

As US vice-president, Biden has played a key role in the making of US policies towards China since Obama's first term as US president. Of the view that China's development will benefit Sino-US relations, Biden has made great efforts for the development of bilateral ties, drawing praise from many quarters. Biden has helped the US president exchange visits with his Chinese counterpart. The exchange of high-level visits has helped deepen mutual trust between the top leaders of the two countries. Also, Biden has vigorously pushed for the exchange of visits between the two countries' vice-presidents.

At the talks during Biden's latest visit to China, the two sides also exchanged views on China's newly demarcated Air Defence Identification Zone over the East China Sea, holding timely high-level communication between the two countries. The ADIZ is an important step for China towards safeguarding its national security and sovereignty in the East China Sea, especially in the changed regional and international situations.

In the last century, China's sovereignty was compromised because of invasions into and occupation of its territories by some imperialist powers. Despite Taiwan's return to the motherland after the end of World War II, China has not been able to realise the reunion across the Straits owing to continuous US meddling in its internal affairs. To the detriment of China's sovereignty, the US even transferred the administration over the Diaoyu Islands, an integral part of China's territory, to Japan. The establishment of an ADIZ by Japan covering the Diaoyu Islands 44 years ago and the "nationalisation" of some of the islands by Tokyo last year are further infringements upon China's sovereignty, which have worsened the security conditions in the East China Sea.

Against this backdrop, the establishment of an ADIZ by China is a legitimate measure to maintain its air and maritime security. In no way does it suggest that China intends to expand its territorial air space. The stipulation that foreign aircraft entering the ADIZ must notify China of their flight plans does not hamper their freedom of flight through the zone in accordance with international laws.

China has been pursuing its development in accordance with the extant framework of international laws. Besides, its fast-paced development is the result of long-term and mutually beneficial cooperation with the US. The ADIZ, too, is a US invention; China is only following international practices to safeguard its sovereignty. It is more than clear today that China and the US will benefit from cooperation and suffer from confrontation.

As responsible powers, China and the US need to deepen cooperation in their pursuit of regional and global stability. They share the responsibility of deepening cooperation and intensifying exchanges in an era of transforming global patterns in order to build a new type of major-power relationship.

The author is a professor at and associate dean of the Institute of International Studies in Shanghai's Fudan University.




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