Seeking the right track: Beijing, Washington and beyond

As Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden concluded their high-profile meeting in San Francisco, CGTN releases a documentary “Seeking the right track: Beijing, Washington and beyond” to trace the journey of the two superpowers that led to the meeting. Has the meeting succeeded in placing a floor to their relationship? Or have bilateral ties reached a point of no return? These are some of the questions the documentary seeks to answer.

During the meeting, President Xi emphasized, for China and the United States, turning their back on each other is not an option; it is unrealistic for one side to remodel the other; and conflict and confrontation have unbearable consequences for both sides.

President Xi said there is a need for the two countries to find a new paradigm in the China-U.S. relations.

Theoretically, under the “realist” paradigm, one school of thought in international relations, conflicts are inevitable as countries look out for their own best interests. Does it mean that China and the U.S are destined to conflict and confrontation?

However, the documentary shows that from a pragmatic perspective, there are reasons to think otherwise. Shared responsibilities and common interests require China and the U.S. to work together. One area for cooperation is climate. For example, California’s governor Gavin Newsom pointed out that although everything else may be situational, climate alone is the most enduring issue.

Besides climate, trade relations are also crucial. The U.S. has imposed tariffs and sanctions on high-tech against China; but research has shown that these measures have boomeranged and hurt U.S. manufacturing output, employment and exports.

Is there a new paradigm to be found towards the relationship?

The history of the China-U.S. relation has proved that it is possible to develop a win-win partnership. As Henry Kissinger said in the documentary, “What we should expect from each other or try to achieve is that we each develop our societies in a way we think the most appropriate. But as we do this, we keep in mind that we move toward similar and sometimes identical goals.”

And the best way to increase mutual understanding is through people-to-people exchange, which is highlighted in President Xi’s address to the U.S. business community, where he said, “The hope of the China-U.S. relationship lies in the people, its foundation is in our societies, its future depends on the youth, and its vitality comes from exchanges at subnational levels.”

In San Francisco, President Xi made sure that he got time to catch up with his old friends – among them the host family whom he stayed with in Muscatine, Iowa, nearly 40 years ago, and the veterans of the Flying Tigers who fought alongside Chinese soldiers during the WWII – all a testament to his belief that politics and policies do change, but the great people of China and the United States ought to remain friends.

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