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Editorial: Seek cooperation, rather than confrontation

  • November 17, 2021
  • , Asahi , p. 14
  • JMH Translation

“We have a responsibility to the world, as well as to our people,” said U.S. President Joe Biden.


“…Humanity lives in a global village,” said Chinese leader Xi Jinping.


In this way, the leaders of the two superpowers confirmed their commitment to the international community. We hope they abide by their own words and build a bilateral relationship where they act with utmost wisdom and avert conflicts and disasters.


The U.S.-China summit meeting was held online. Biden and Xi had spoken over the phone [twice], but this is the first time for the two leaders to “meet” since President Biden took office.


In their three and half hour conversation, the two discussed a wide range of topics, including military tensions over Taiwan and elsewhere, trade issues, and human rights in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Hong Kong.


The U.S. and China disagree on a variety of matters, and their differences are deep-rooted. Obviously, a breakthrough was impossible in a single meeting and therefore it is not surprising they didn’t make any apparent progress. Still, the two countries should use the momentum created by this successful staging of a peaceful atmosphere to continue the dialogue.


The U.S. and China have shared profound distrust in recent years. The U.S. is hardening its attitude toward China which, it suspects, is determined to challenge the post-WWII international order. China is alarmed that the U.S. is now opposing China’s single-party regime itself.


The COVID-19 pandemic brought into the relief the two countries’ different systems of government and made people question which is superior. Seeing that the U.S. has suffered the largest number of COVID-related deaths of any country in the world, China has boasted of its own ability to handle the crisis, trumpeting the strength of Chinese-style “democracy.”


Disputes over ideology that go beyond military and technological competition cannot be resolved overnight. During the online summit, the Chinese leader remarked on the Cold War, stressing that the calamities of that period should serve as a lesson. To avoid repeating history, Biden and Xi must somehow create a way to prevent the bilateral dispute from developing into a “new Cold War.”


Steps must urgently be taken to prevent an accidental clash in the Taiwan Strait and in the South and East China Seas.


Recently the U.S. and the EU have been increasing exchange with Taiwan, providing an unprecedented level of support. China is also increasing its military pressure on the island. The U.S. and China must recognize and avoid crossing the line the other side regards as critical, while urgently establishing a crisis management mechanism.


For example, negotiations must commence immediately to control the U.S. and Chinese nuclear arsenals. The two countries have a responsibility to halt nuclear proliferation by Russia and others.


The international community is looking to establishment of a multinational framework that provides order to world trade, which was thrown into turmoil by the Trump administration. The negative impact of that era will continue if either one of the superpowers insisted exclusively on its own gains and prestige.


Next year, the Chinese Communist Party will hold its National Congress, and the U.S. will have its midterm elections. For these reasons, Biden and Xi will have a hard time compromising. Nonetheless, world stability depends on whether they can build a functional relationship.


Meanwhile, the U.S. and China share concerns about certain issues, including North Korea, Iran’s nuclear power, and the climate change crisis. We would like to see the two countries take steps toward progress, starting with areas of shared interest and expanding into others where cooperation is possible.  

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