Orville Schell on a Bright Spot in U.S.-China Relations


Publicado originalmente em 31 de dezembro de 2015.

Climate change offers a classic opportunity—a common foe that could bring a new and much needed stability to Sino-U.S. relations

The level of mistrust between Washington and Beijing is very high these days. Disagreements have multiplied in recent years, with the U.S. resisting China’s gambits in the South and East China seas, disapproving of President Xi Jinping’s courtship of Russian President Vladimir Putin and warily eyeing other efforts to project Chinese economic and military power. And there remains the enormous disparity between the two countries’ political systems and values, exemplified by Beijing’s recent arrests of lawyers, stifling of NGOs, harassment of artists and intellectuals, censorship of the media and hacking of U.S. databases.

Beijing, too, has questions about U.S. intentions: Is our “pivot to Asia” not aimed at containing China? Do we still believe in regime change? What do all the belligerent utterances issuing from the Republican primary portend?

There is one potentially bright spot in this fraught tableau, a place where both national interests are aligned: climate change. Indeed, Presidents Obama and Xi have already begun weaving together an effective fabric of common purpose that helped the recent U.N. climate conference succeed in Paris last month.

For this partnership to become a real game-changer, far more courageous leadership is needed, especially as the U.S. continues, as it should, to hedge its bets against the possibility of a more adversarial relationship. The task for the U.S. is to persuade Chinese leaders that, even as we actively counter their overreach, we far prefer a peaceable and collaborative path forward.

Climate change offers a classic opportunity—exactly the kind of common foe that, despite years of hostility, brought Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger together with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai in 1972 to counter the Soviet Union. Climate change provides another such opening, and both sides should exploit it by appointing special ambassadors and initiating an active round of shuttle diplomacy. A success would not only help to confront global warming but could also bring a new and much needed stability to Sino-U.S. relations.

Mr. Schell is Arthur Ross Director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society and co-author, with John Delury, of “Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the 21st Century.”

Fonte: Wall Street Journal

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