April 8, 2015 |
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21st Century China Opinion
U.S.-China Relations in 2015: A Chinese Perspective 
From the source

"With geopolitical imperatives and its competition with China for influence in the Pacific Rim firmly in mind the US unsuccessfully lobbied allies such as Australia, Japan and the UK not to join the nascent Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank."

Guest view

Note: Ahead of Xi Jinping's state visit to the U.S. later this year, we recently spoke with Da Wei, the director of the Institute of American Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, an influential government think tank in Beijing.


Q: What was Beijing's reaction to America's mishandling of the Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) rollout? Do you see the AIIB as a competitor to the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank?


A: There are two kinds of views. One is among experts who I think are not top scholars, but who are very noisy and/or influential. This view tends to see the issue from a zero-sum geopolitical perspective, which is to say that China won and the U.S. lost. Some think it shows the decline of the U.S. There is also another view which is more complex and nuanced, and less geopolitical or zero-sum. This school of thought holds that of course the Obama administration's efforts were not smart and have failed, but they tend to view it as a limited victory for China. It's just a bank, one part of the international institutional system, and certainly not all of it. China still faces a huge challenge in negotiating the charter of the AIIB (the participation of developed nations has increased this difficulty). It needs to raise money as well as disperse money, so there is a long way to go. The U.S. government adjusted its position slightly at the final stage, which is good. I personally belong to the second school of thought, and I think both of our two countries need to thank the U.K. and other European countries for joining. With their participation, China will not interpret the interaction between China and the West on this issue as a part of the "rise vs. containment" narrative. Also, with Western participation, the U.S. can worry less about the future rules and the standards of the bank. 


Q: Do you think there is a "Xi Jinping Model" of governance? If so, what are its main characteristics?


A: I would say yes, but I am not sure if I can summarize it correctly and it might be too early to draw conclusions. That being said, my preliminary view is: 1) Xi is a strong leader like Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, and thus is different from Hu Jintao or even Jiang Zemin. 2) He tends to take bold action to solve problems that in his view the country and the Party are facing. These include the weak attractiveness of the Party's ideology, corruption, vested interests and environmental pollution. 3) He emphasizes governance capability, at the core of which is the Party's ability to govern. Thus, the Party must play a more direct role in China's reform. 4) He prefers a top-down decision making process. The three levels of this process are strong political leadership, detailed and bold policy planning by the Party, and effective implementation of policy by different ministries and local leaders.


Q: In some of your previous writings, you seem optimistic about U.S.-China relations. Looking ahead to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, do you see any trouble spots?


A: Well, I don't think I am very optimistic about the U.S.-China relationship. It should and can be stable, but I can only cross my fingers. In particular I am watching the increasing tension between our two countries on China's reclamation project in the South China Seas. Cyber is unpredictable, but it's like a sword of Damocles over our heads, and something big can occur. I'm also worried about several issues relating to Japan, including this year's commemoration of the end of WWII, Abe's visit to the U.S. and his bid to have Japan become a permanent member of the UN Security Council. All these things will happen in the next six months and are interconnected. Of course, I worry about the presidential candidates criticizing China for "political correctness," which may cause tension between us and shape his/her policy towards China for a couple of years after he/she enters the White House.
Field Notes from China:
Selections from
Chinese-language Media

China needs a discussion on its population
control policy 


While it may be slow and cautious, there are clearly changes happening to China's much-maligned "One Child Policy." Driven by a concern over an aging population as well as imbalances in its gender ratio, the CCP is starting to expand the zones of procreative freedom. Yet, as the following commentary in the Economic Observer newspaper points out, the discussion is still relegated to intra-government sources, and in order to get the policy mix right, must expand to include all elements of society.   


Excerpt from the story: "Xi Jinping has empathized that 2015 is a key year for comprehensively deepening the reform process. Our policy on procreation should be no exception. How we select the appropriate policy should depend on official sources as well as unofficial think tanks, the active participation of academics, as well as the lessons of both domestic and international experience. We need more data and examples, better surveys and more input from the public. Economists universally agree that Japan's two decades of stagnation were in part the result of a low birth rate. China obviously wants to maintain its economic expansion and avoid the disastrous policy of Japan. We hope that through thorough discussion, we can illuminate the correct population policy and thus bring forth the population dividend."


Source: 经济观察报

Remarks by Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying on Japanese textbooks 


SummaryAs the above comments by Da Wei indicate, there are several potential roadblocks for China-Japan relations in the coming year, and behind them all is the lingering shadow of history, particularly Japan's treatment of China and the Chinese during the war. This was on display at the April 7 Foreign Ministry press conference when a question was asked about recently released Japanese high school textbooks.


Excerpt from the story: "Q: On April 6, the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology released the result of its review of junior high school textbooks, which have authorized new textbooks to describe the Diaoyu Islands as Japan's 'inherent territory.' Setbacks are also seen on the description of the Nanjing Massacre and other historical issues. What is the position of China on this?


A: The Chinese side is deeply concerned about what is happening in Japan. Diaoyu Islands and its affiliated islands have been an integral part of China since ancient times. That is fully supported by historical and jurisprudential evidence. Whatever means the Japanese side may employ to advertise its wrong position, it cannot change the basic fact.


The Nanjing Massacre is an atrocity committed by Japanese militarism during its war of aggression against China. The conclusion has already been reached based on irrefutable evidence. How Japan views and deals with the relevant issues is a reflection of whether Japan has an honest, responsible and correct outlook on history. History is history, which cannot and must not be altered. We once again urge the Japanese side to be highly responsible with history, teach the younger generation a correct outlook on history, honor its commitment of facing squarely and reflecting upon the history of aggression and make tangible efforts to improve its relations with neighboring countries."


Source: 外交部

China Talk: Interviews, Lectures and Events
  China's Military Development
At a recent panel of Japanese and United States experts who explored the development of China's military power, UC San Diego's Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation director Tai Ming Chueng offered his assessment of recent trends in the modernization of the PLA and what this means for the U.S. Click on the image to launch the audio.