U.S./China: The Most Important Bilateral Relationship in the World Today

Aug 21, 2015 by

Xi Jinping

Xi Jinping

Tom Watkins –

Guess who’s coming to dinner? Xi Jinping, the President of China. President Xi Jinping will visit the United States in September, partaking in a high stakes, scripted, state dinner with President Obama and other dignitaries at the White House. The Chinese leader will be in the neighborhood for the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the United Nations.

Our U.S.-China relationship is the most important bilateral relationship in the world today. All major global issues intersect at the corner of Beijing and Washington, D.C., and there is much for the two world leaders to discuss – conversations best done on a foundation of mutual respect, seeking win-win strategies that enhance world peace and economic growth.

A few topics worthy of time and effort include: climate change, Iran’s nuclear program, cyber-spying, the South China Sea, the Chinese economic bubble, an expanding Chinese military, Chinese currency policy, global terrorism, global economic growth, environmental protection, efforts to combat the Islamic State, the situation in Ukraine, China’s global reach in Africa, the Caribbean and South America—to name a few.

Perhaps even a mention about human rights and Tibet will be broached—just enough to appease America’s human rights activists. As China’s power has expanded, the U.S. has tipped-toed around these sensitive topics. Human rights activists claim that since President Xi came to power, China’s human rights record has worsened. China considers “human rights” an internal affair issue and rejects any outside interference.

This is President Xi’s first official State visit to Washington as China’s leader at a time when the Chinese economy is experiencing a ‘correction’ causing significant domestic anxiety. With China’s importance to the world’s economy, what happens in China no longer stays in China. Global economic markets fear any major setback to China’s gravy train.

Few expect major agreements or breakthroughs during the visit. Xi’s trip is expected to be a largely photo-op for domestic Chinese consumption, and will be used to strengthen connections in order to avoid conflicts. Many China watchers believe the visit is an attempt by both nations to take stock of their relationship and patch over any rough spots during Obama’s remaining time in office.

Yet there is some momentum in this fluid relationship. Last autumn, Obama and Xi struck a major climate deal to reduce carbon admissions which environmentalist heralded as an important step towards a larger global climate deal that could be reached before year’s end.

Hope For Major Breakthroughs

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