Skip to main content

'AmeriChina' looking for trust at the top

By Victor Zhikai Gao, for CNN
June 7, 2013 -- Updated 0703 GMT (1503 HKT)
File photo of President Barack Obama meeting then-Vice President Xi Jinping in 2012.
File photo of President Barack Obama meeting then-Vice President Xi Jinping in 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Gao: What is sorely lacking between China and the U.S. is trust at the top
  • The informal meeting underlines the pragmatic relationship between the superpowers
  • U.S. and China are the world's largest economies and highly integrated with each other
  • The bilateral trade between China and the U.S. this year will be beyond $500 billion

Editor's note: Victor Zhikai Gao is director of China National Association of International Studies. He was a former employee of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and served as English interpreter for Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in the 1980s.

(CNN) -- The world is holding its breath for the informal summit between U.S. President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping in California. Will Obama and Xi look into each other's eyes and see each other as a partner to trust? Will they be able to set the tone for the China-U.S. relations for years, if not decades, to come?

I had the privilege of accompanying two Chinese Presidents to the White House in 1985 and 1987, and being invited as a guest to the White House when Chinese President Hu Jintao was welcomed by President George W. Bush in April 2006. Such China-U.S. summits have been known for both the substance of the meetings as well as the pomposity and the glamorous bells and whistles of high diplomacy.

By agreeing to meet without the red carpet and 21-gun salute, both Obama and Xi have demonstrated pragmatism and commitment to focusing on the most important, urgent issues between China and the U.S. as well as in the world. Xi should be given credit for his vision, courage and wisdom in agreeing with Obama to build up personal rapport and trust between the two most important persons in the world.

While there have been numerous channels of communications between Beijing and Washington, including the biannual Sino-US Economic and Strategic Dialogue, what is sorely lacking between China and the U.S. is that trust at the very top.

Victor Gao, China expert
Victor Gao, China expert

What is encouraging is that, unlike the zero-sum game between the U.S. and the former Soviet Union in the Cold War era, today the U.S. and China are the two largest economies in the world, and highly integrated with each other. The bilateral trade this year will be far beyond $500 billion, larger than the GDP of many countries. The exchange of people, students, goods, information and investment between the two countries has been breaking records year after year.

Of course, given their different histories, cultural backgrounds, political systems and values, China and the U.S. will hardly ever be exactly alike, with friction inevitable between the two countries. The challenges are how to establish a sound mechanism to handle such friction effectively and in a timely manner, and how to build common ground and mutual interest so that both countries benefit from increasing trade and exchange.

Furthermore, as the two largest economies and most important countries in the world, the more China and the U.S. can see eye to eye on major international issues, the easier it will be to prevent escalation of international crises -- and the more effective they can be at solving them.

In recent years, I have been using "AmeriChina" to describe the high expectations of the future of China-U.S. relations. The term, which ranks America and China alphabetically and in order of their relative importance, is better than "Chimerica" which defies the more logical way of ranking China and the U.S. The sense of shared destiny encapsulated in the concept of "AmeriChina" will help foster a new way of looking at the China-U.S. relations.

In this spirit, let's give our best wishes to the Obama-Xi informal summit in California, and work collectively to make "AmeriChina" a reality. AmeriChina will be good for America, good for China, and good for the rest of the world.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 22, 2014 -- Updated 0916 GMT (1716 HKT)
He's one of the fieriest political activists in Hong Kong — he's been called an "extremist" by China's state-run media — and he's not old enough to drive.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 0929 GMT (1729 HKT)
Christians in eastern China keep watch in Wenzhou, where authorities have demolished churches and removed crosses.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 0538 GMT (1338 HKT)
Home-grown hip-hop appeals to a younger generation but its popularity has not translated into record deals and profits for budding rap artists.
September 9, 2014 -- Updated 0545 GMT (1345 HKT)
Reforms to the grueling gaokao - the competitive college entrance examination - don't make the grade, says educator Jiang Xueqin.
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 1218 GMT (2018 HKT)
Beijing grapples with reports from Iraq that a Chinese national fighting for ISIS has been captured.
September 1, 2014 -- Updated 0200 GMT (1000 HKT)
CNN's David McKenzie has tasted everything from worms to grasshoppers while on the road; China's cockroaches are his latest culinary adventure.
September 5, 2014 -- Updated 0057 GMT (0857 HKT)
Beijing rules only candidates approved by a nominating committee can run for Hong Kong's chief executive.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 1914 GMT (0314 HKT)
China warns the United States to end its military surveillance flights near Chinese territory.
August 29, 2014 -- Updated 0312 GMT (1112 HKT)
China has produced elite national athletes but some argue the emphasis on winning discourages children. CNN's Kristie Lu Stout reports
August 19, 2014 -- Updated 0513 GMT (1313 HKT)
Chinese are turning to overseas personal shoppers to get their hands on luxury goods at lower prices.
August 15, 2014 -- Updated 0908 GMT (1708 HKT)
Experts say rapidly rising numbers of Christians are making it harder for authorities to control the religion's spread.
August 11, 2014 -- Updated 0452 GMT (1252 HKT)
"I'm proud of their moral standing," says Harvey Humphrey. His parents are accused of corporate crimes in China.
August 6, 2014 -- Updated 1942 GMT (0342 HKT)
A TV confession detailing a life of illegal gambling and paid-for sex has capped the dramatic fall of one of China's most high-profile social media celebrities.
July 31, 2014 -- Updated 0410 GMT (1210 HKT)
President Xi Jinping's campaign to punish corrupt Chinese officials has snared its biggest target -- where can the campaign go from here?
July 30, 2014 -- Updated 0712 GMT (1512 HKT)
All you need to know about the tainted meat produce that affects fast food restaurants across China, Hong Kong, and Japan.
July 18, 2014 -- Updated 0230 GMT (1030 HKT)
Some savvy individuals in China are claiming naming rights to valuable foreign brands. Here's how companies can combat them.
July 16, 2014 -- Updated 0911 GMT (1711 HKT)
Is the Chinese president a true reformist or merely a "dictator" in disguise? CNN's Beijing bureau chief Jaime FlorCruz dissects the leader's policies
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 0344 GMT (1144 HKT)
With a population of 1.3 billion, you'd think that there would be 11 people in China who are good enough to put up a fight on the football pitch.
ADVERTISEMENT