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
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0857 GMT (1657 HKT)
Chinese students show a handmade red ribbon one day ahead of the the World AIDS Day, at a school in Hanshan, east China's Anhui province on November 30, 2009.
Over 200 Chinese villagers in Sichuan province have signed a petition to banish a HIV-positive eight-year-old boy, state media reported.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
A Chinese couple allegedly threw hot water on a flight attendant and threatened to blow up the plane, forcing the Nanjing-bound plane to turn back to Bangkok.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 0503 GMT (1303 HKT)
China's 1.3 billion citizens may soon find it much harder to belt out their national anthem at will.
December 10, 2014 -- Updated 0021 GMT (0821 HKT)
Like Beijing today, Los Angeles in the last century went through its own smog crisis. The city's mayor says LA's experience delivers valuable lessons.
December 6, 2014 -- Updated 0542 GMT (1342 HKT)
At the height of his power, Zhou Yongkang controlled China's police, spy agencies and courts. Now, he's under arrest.
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 0826 GMT (1626 HKT)
China says it will end organ transplants from executed prisoners but tradition means that donors are unlikely to make up the shortfall.
December 5, 2014 -- Updated 0648 GMT (1448 HKT)
China's skylines could look a lot more uniform in the years to come, if a statement by a top Beijing official is to believed.
December 3, 2014 -- Updated 0855 GMT (1655 HKT)
Despite an anti-corruption drive, China's position on an international corruption index has deteriorated in the past 12 months.
November 26, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
A daring cross-border raid by one of Russian President Vladimir Putin's associates has -- so far -- yet to sour Sino-Russian relations.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0051 GMT (0851 HKT)
A 24-hour Taipei bookstore is a hangout for hipsters as well as bookworms.
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 0153 GMT (0953 HKT)
China is building an island in the South China Sea that could accommodate an airstrip, according to IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.
November 19, 2014 -- Updated 1057 GMT (1857 HKT)
North Korean refugees face a daunting journey to reach asylum in South Korea, with gangs of smugglers the only option.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2319 GMT (0719 HKT)
China and "probably one or two other" countries have the capacity to shut down the nation's power grid and other critical infrastructure.
ADVERTISEMENT