Awarding Carter's success rebukes calls for China-U.S. decoupling

Editor's Note: The following article is taken from the Chinese-language "Commentaries on International Affairs" published on China Plus on June 13. The article reflects the author's opinion, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter was recognized on Wednesday for his contribution to U.S.-China ties when he was awarded the inaugural George H. W. Bush Award for Statesmanship in U.S.-China Relations.

The 94-year-old Democrat established formal diplomatic relations with China in 1979 during his presidency. The fact that he's been honored by a foundation named after a Republican, who served as the head of the U.S. Liaison Office in Beijing between 1974 and 1975, speaks volumes about how American political elites have largely transcended party interests when it comes to maintaining China-U.S. relations. It's a powerful response to the handful of voices in the United States calling for a decoupling of the two countries.


The George H. W. Bush Award for Statesmanship in U.S.-China Relations /VCG Photo

The George H. W. Bush Award for Statesmanship in U.S.-China Relations /VCG Photo

From Richard Nixon, who said during a seven-day visit to China in 1972 that if both sides "decide to work together, we can change the world," to Jimmy Carter, who decided to open up new horizons of U.S.-China trade relations, to George H. W. Bush, the president who visited China earlier in his term than any of the others – these statesmen all chose to advance U.S.-China relations in the name of safeguarding American interests. They all understood that it's only through cooperation with China that America's national interests can be truly protected and global stability and development can be promoted.

The strategic vision of those statesmen had borne fruit: Bilateral trade was only worth 2.5 billion U.S. dollars when they established diplomatic ties in 1979. Last year, it was worth more than 630 billion U.S. dollars, more than 250-fold increase. At present, the annual sales revenue of U.S.-funded enterprises in China stands at around 700 billion U.S. dollars, and their profits exceed 50 billion U.S. dollars. Earlier this year, when looking back at his achievements as president, Carter said: "normalization with China may have been the most beneficial to world peace and understanding."

Unfortunately, because of pressure coming from a few politicians with extremist views, the United States government is deviating from the track American statesmen spent decades laying. In doing so, they are leading China-U.S. relations into dangerous territory. They are throwing up obstacles in trade, research and development in science and technology, and people-to-people exchanges. They are calling for the United States to decouple from China and to start a new Cold War. These voices ignore the highly complementary, deeply integrated, and mutually beneficial relations that have been nurtured between the two countries, and in doing so, they are undermining the interests of both countries, as well as global prosperity and stability more broadly. That's the last thing most Americans, including former president Carter, want to happen.


Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter helps build homes for Habitat for Humanity in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, July 11, 2017. /VCG Photo

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter helps build homes for Habitat for Humanity in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, July 11, 2017. /VCG Photo

In a recent public speech Carter made in his hometown in Georgia, he spoke about a phone call he had with President Trump in which he expressed his concerns over the handling of America's relationship with China. Carter pointed out that the United States had been busy starting wars while China had focused on developing its economy and improving the livelihood of its people. He also stressed that a superpower is "not just who has the most powerful military, but who is a champion of the finer things in life."

Carter has noted that China and the United States have vastly different cultures, histories, forms of government, interests, and levels of development. "But we also believed that the goals that bound us together – mutual respect, the pursuit of peace, prosperity, and progress – were much more important than the differences that divided us." And the late president George H. W. Bush once spoke about his dream that "these two powerful giants will continue working toward a full partnership and friendship that will bring peace and prosperity to people everywhere."

The leaders of the United States should return to the mainstream view regarding America's relationship with China, and stop chasing the dangerous fantasy of a decoupling of the world's two largest economies. Cooperating with China has helped make America great, and it's the policy the United States should pursue to safeguard its national interests.

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