San Francisco a new starter for China-U.S. relations Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with U.S. President Joe Biden at the FiloliEstate in the U.S. state of California, November 15, 2023. /Xinhua

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden had a candid and in-depth exchange of views at the Filoli Estate, San Francisco on Wednesday. This much-anticipated summit took place a year after the two presidents met in Bali, Indonesia.

The summit is strategic, historic and guiding, with great significance in “returning to Bali” and promoting the bilateral relationship to get back on track. During the meeting, President Xi called on the two countries to build together five pillars for bilateral relations and assume a new San Francisco vision facing the future.

Developing a “right perception” is the starting point. Specific definition of the bilateral relationship and clear understandings of each other’s interests and intentions are vital in effective exchanges between China and the United States.

President Xi stressed that China is consistently committed to having a stable, healthy and sustainable relationship with the United States. At the same time, China has interests that must be safeguarded, principles that must be upheld, and red lines that must not be crossed.

China hopes that the two countries can be partners that respect each other and coexist in peace. The summit was an important strategic choice for China to stabilize bilateral ties and the global situation. American economist Jeffrey Sachs said the idea of mutual respect, cooperation, dialogue, and joint problem-solving is “really wise, and of paramount importance,” according to Xinhua reports.

Admittedly, the two countries still face some strategic disputes. President Xi stressed at the summit that two countries need to jointly manage disagreements effectively instead of letting them become a chasm that keeps the two countries apart.

In fact, before, during and after the Xi-Biden summit, the two sides have reached a series of important consensuses on functional issues including climate change, artificial intelligence, counternarcotics cooperation and people-to-people exchanges.

The two sides have decided to operationalize the Working Group on Enhancing Climate Action in the 2020s to carry out dialogues and cooperation on energy transition, methane, the circular economy and resource utilization efficiency. In the meantime, the two countries have agreed to establish working groups on counternarcotics cooperation. They have also reached consensus to increase direct scheduled passenger flights in an attempt to expand sub-national exchanges and strengthen people-to-people exchanges.

China-U.S. engagement and cooperation on these issues are essential to promote dialogue and understanding between two sides, and reduce the risks of conflicts and confrontations caused by miscalculations. It is a beneficial practice for the two countries to explore the right way of getting along with each other.

As the former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said, conflicts between China and the U.S. will lead to unimaginable consequences. Both sides must properly manage differences and strive to build a “candid” bilateral relationship.

China-U.S. cooperation is not only in the common interests of both countries, and is also a manifestation of responsibility toward the international community. During the summit, President Xi called on China and the United States to jointly shoulder responsibilities as major countries, stressing that the problems facing human society cannot be solved without cooperation between major countries.

Joseph Nye, a University Distinguished Service Professor and former Dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, emphasized that decoupling is impossible between China and the U.S., as no country can tackle climate change, the pandemic threat, or other transnational problems alone. The New York Times, in a tweet published on Wednesday, noted that China and the U.S. are interdependent on each other and their roles in the global arena are irreplaceable.

China, as the largest developing country, and the U.S., as the largest developed country, are vital in promoting global economic growth. In the meantime, as permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and important participants in the current global governance mechanism, the two countries also play a crucial role in addressing global challenges.

The consensus reached during the San Francisco summit demonstrates that the two countries share vast common interests and can cooperate for multi-win results. A stable China-U.S. relationship is not wishful thinking. It requires the two countries to act toward each other. Communication is the first step to mutual trust, respect and cooperation.

From Bali to San Francisco, the giant ship of China-U.S. relations has sailed through hidden reefs and rapids. But San Francisco is not a destination. The city, which has witnessed the century-long history of exchanges between Chinese and American people, is a new starter for the China-U.S. relationship.

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