Last night President George W Bush's National Security Adviser, Stephen Hadley, presented the Lowy Institute with his vision of US-China relations, and just a day earlier, Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a speech on US-China relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). With President Obama due to visit China next week for APEC, it's worth taking a look at a few extracts, beginning with the four goals of the US rebalance to the Asia Pacific:
First, the opportunity to create sustainable economic growth, which includes finalizing the Trans-Pacific Partnership. The TPP is not only a trade agreement, but also a strategic opportunity for the United States and other Pacific nations to come together, to bind together, so that we can all prosper together. Second, powering a clean energy revolution that will help us address climate change while simultaneously jumpstarting economies around the world. Third, reducing tensions and promoting regional cooperation by strengthening the institutions and reinforcing the norms that contribute to a rules-based, stable region. And fourth, empowering people throughout the Asia Pacific to live with dignity, security, and opportunity...
...The goal of the rebalance is not a strategic initiative to affect one nation or push people in any direction. It is an inclusive invitation to join in this march towards prosperity, dignity, and stability for countries. I can reaffirm today that the Obama Administration is absolutely committed to seeing through all of these goals.
Two things to note: one is the strong re-assertion of the Administration's commitment to the rebalance. Why would that be necessary unless Kerry is getting signals that regional friends and allies are doubting America's commitment? The second point is that democracy does not appear in Kerry's list of four aims.
On the US-China relationship itself:
(Chinese) Ambassador (to the US) Cui (Tiankai) spoke at SAIS about one year ago and he described the U.S.-China relationship as, quote, “the most important as well as the most sensitive, the most comprehensive as well as the most complex, and the most promising as well as the most challenging.” All of those attributes are true, but I would respectfully add one more to that list: The U.S.-China relationship is the most consequential in the world today, period, and it will do much to determine the shape of the 21st century.
And lastly, some Kissingerian reasoning from Kerry:
Our two nations face a genuine test of leadership. We have to make the right choices in both Washington and in Beijing. In many ways, the world we’re living in today is much more like 19th-century and 18th-century global diplomacy, the balance of power and different interests, than it is the bifurcated, bipolar world we lived in in the Cold War and much of the 20th century.