Hopes in SunnylandsThe leaders of the preeminent global powers, the United States and China, will be meeting on June 7-8 at Sunnylands in Rancho Mirage, California. Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping will be spending a night at the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Estate, a retreat southeast of Los Angeles built by the publisher and statesman Walter Annenberg and his wife, and will discuss a wide range of issues between the two global powers.
Obama requested their first meeting take place at Sunnylands - dubbed the western Camp David - and the new leader of China accepted it. The retreat is a better setting for the leaders of the world’s most powerful rivals. They can relax without suits and ties and their talks can touch on thorny territorial and trade issues as well other differences. The two countries undoubtedly have the two most important leaders on the global stage. They are regarded as the “indispensable nations” whose influence reaches every corner of the global community.
The men have a full agenda but they will most likely focus on bilateral issues. During the peak of the Cold War, U.S. President Richard Nixon broke the ice between the two nations by making a historic visit to Beijing in February 1972. Seven years later, the two countries normalized diplomatic relations. Since then, China has made a phenomenal ascent economically.
It has become the second largest economy after the United States and the cash-rich nation is helping the U.S. finance its own astronomical fiscal deficits through its foreign exchange reserves, the world’s largest. The two countries have become so intricately connected in trade, business and finances that they have no choice but to cooperate. The two must compete and contain one another while at the same time cooperate in order to sustain the status quo that benefits us all.
The Sunnylands summit between the fifth-generation Chinese leader and a reelected U.S. president should be a starting point of a new chapter in U.S.-China relations. It should produce the same monumental result as the Shanghai Communique in 1972 signed between Nixon and Chinese premier Zhou Enlai on the final day of the “week that changed the world,” as Nixon called it. In the communique, the two countries agreed that neither they nor any other should “seek hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region.”
Countries in the eastern hemisphere are anxiously watching the tensions between the two global powers with the U.S. shifting its focus to “pivot” toward Asia, which China views a kind of containment of its rising power in the region. The two, therefore, must calm the insecurities of Asia-Pacific countries by declaring that they will accept and respect differences and work toward settling them through peaceful dialogue. Such maturity is demanded from two countries that are so big and powerful.
We hope the two leaders will conclude their Sunnylands meeting with a productive and inspiring joint communique that promises to end wasteful confrontation to strive for a constructive and future-oriented partnership. They must prove skeptics who see nothing but conflict and rivalry all wrong.
A close Sino-U.S. relationship is vital to solving the conundrum on the Korean Peninsula. The two must understand that an outdated and unnatural bisection is the fundamental problem of the peninsula and they should support the desires of all Koreans who hope to end the division and unify the two lands through peaceful means.
The U.S. and China must play their respective parts in resolving the North Korean nuclear problem. China has the influence to pressure North Korea to stop all its missile and nuclear weapons program. It’s the only nation in the world that has leverage over Pyongyang. The U.S. can lure North Korea back to the negotiating table and cajole it to give up its nuclear ambitions through a big deal. South Korea should provide a setting for dialogue by easing tensions through improved inter-Korean ties and offer bold yet inventive ideas to the U.S. and China on establishing a lasting peace on the peninsula.
The Korean Peninsula issue is not a regional problem alone. It’s an international problem. It also poses a conflict between Washington and Beijing. Its resolution can shape the future relations of the two countries. If the two join forces to provide a turning point, they will at the same time find themselves on a common path for the upcoming decade. We sincerely hope the California summit will produce results that make history.
*The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Bae Myung-bok