Why Washington Should Embrace Beijing’s “New Type of Major-power Relationship”

ApecObamaAt last week’s APEC summit in Manila, President Barack Obama sharply criticized China for building artificial islands in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. But instead of calling out China, Obama should have taken the opportunity to reconsider Chinese President Xi Jinping’s proposal for a “new type of major-power relationship.”

The Obama administration was concerned when Xi first raised this concept in 2012 when he was still China’s vice president. Does that mean that China expects to share power equally with the United States? What signal would that send to U.S. allies?

In his 2013 meeting with Obama, Xi Jinping defined the “new type of major-power relationship” as “no confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation.” This proposition marks a break away from the zero-sum game mentality, and serves American interests as well as the interests of the world.

However, all Xi Jinping’s benevolent messages such as “win-win,” “shared future,” and “interdependence” are falling on deaf ears. Americans tend to view anything the Chinese say with suspicion, perhaps for good reason. China has repeatedly claimed that it will never pursue hegemony. Yet, the Communist Party itself is the hegemon within China. Beijing has a lot of work to do in order to convince the international community that it would behave differently on the world stage.

For the U.S., however, embracing the “new type of major-power relationship” does not diminish American leadership, nor does it mean that the U.S. needs to share power with China equally.

Continue reading

The Chinese Middle Class View of the Leadership Transition

The Chinese Communist Party began its once in a decade leadership transition as the 18th National Congress opened on Thursday. I was interviewed by the Canadian TV News Channel and a German newspaper, Sueddeutche.de, regarding the change of power in China and how members of the Chinese middle class view the leadership transition. Below are the questions and my answers:

Q: What do members of the Chinese middle-class think about the last ten years and the leadership of Hu Jintao?

A: Members of the Chinese middle class think that the country has made a lot of progress economically in the last ten years under the leadership of Hu Jintao. They feel that their lives have improved tremendously. Many of them now own homes and drive cars. This compares to thirty years ago when their parents lived in slums and could hardly afford bicycles.

While many of them approve what the government has done, they are also under extreme anxiety. This anxiety has become increasingly intense in recent years due to political uncertainties. Continue reading