Western news outlets have focused on thorny issues of North Korea and trade adding tension to the US-China bilateral relationship, Chinese state-run Global Times wrote Wednesday, but there is much more holding the powers together.
“While the two countries have experienced numerous problems, cooperation remains the theme,” the editorial said.
The sentiment rings true in terms of actions, with China putting in concerted efforts to apply more pressure on North Korea, and with the US so far hedging any trade action that might plunge the partners into an all-out trade war.
“Since Trump took power, Sino-US relations have seen rising predictability and the two countries have been more capable in managing problems,” the article went on. “What we want most is that the tendency can be strengthened and cemented with the two US secretaries’ China trip and Trump’s state visit to China.”
Indeed, the two largest trading partners are not in a trade war with each other, as some expected, but the apparent optimism coming from Beijing is not shared by most in Washington.
In fact, while most rational people understand that the two countries have no option but to cooperate, the Washington establishment on the right and left is united with populist outsiders in their opposition to China on trade. This is not a narrative pushed by Western media, but consistently by Trump himself, as well as his political allies and enemies alike in Washington.
Trump has also been the opposite of predictable on the North Korea problem, in stark contrast to relative restraint shown by his predecessors. Some around the globe even fear his consistently unpredictable statements are intended to push the North into a confrontation.
With both these most complicated of issues, that are quite to the contrary of what the Global Times creatively imagines as more predictable than during previous US administrations, China must continue to handle Trump with care and come up with creative ways to compromise. One-off, long-awaited trade concessions, as well as increasingly harsh sanctions on North Korea have worked thus far.
Despite its characterization of the state of US-China ties including some degree of wishful thinking, the Global Times is right that stable US-China ties is essential for world order. They are also right that that is why the US is likely to prioritize cooperation, as it has until now.