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
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.
July 4, 2014 -- Updated 0631 GMT (1431 HKT)
26-year-old Ji Cheng is the first rider from China to compete for competitive cycling's highest honor.
July 7, 2014 -- Updated 1124 GMT (1924 HKT)
China's richest man, Wang Jianlin, may not yet be a household name outside of China, but that could be about to change.
July 3, 2014 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
When President Xi Jinping arrives in Seoul this week, the Chinese leader will have passed over North Korea in favor of its arch rival.
July 1, 2014 -- Updated 0656 GMT (1456 HKT)
The push for democratic reform in Hong Kong is testing China's "one country, two systems" model.
June 30, 2014 -- Updated 1156 GMT (1956 HKT)
Along a winding Chinese mountain road dotted with inns and restaurants is Jinan Orphanage, a place of refuge and site for troubled parents to dump unwanted children.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 0836 GMT (1636 HKT)
CNN's Kristie Lu Stout invites Isaac Mao, Han Dongfang, and James Miles to discuss the rise of civil society in China and social media's crucial role.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 0334 GMT (1134 HKT)
Chen Guangbiao wants rich people to give more to charity and he'll do anything to get their attention, including buying lunch for poor New Yorkers.
June 26, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
Architects are planning to build the future world's tallest towers in China. They're going to come in pretty colors.
ADVERTISEMENT