China’s Ambassador Says Ties with U.S. Are No Longer 'Zero-Sum Game'

April 10, 2014
USIP Staff

Ambassador Cui Tiankai of the People's Republic of China spoke at the U.S. Institute of Peace (USIP) about the "new model of major country relations" between the U.S. and China, underscoring that cooperation benefits not only the two countries but the world. 

The new model, he said, is based on new global realities. "There's so much interdependence and connectivity that relations between major countries are no longer a zero-sum game," Cui told the audience at USIP today. 

Nevertheless, even as relations have improved between the two countries, misunderstandings and differences were inevitable, he said. But, "Cold War legacies – whether mental or material – are stumbling blocks rather than building blocks" to establishing a new world order for the 21st century. 

Working closer on shared interests will help manage such differences, Cui said. Opportunities for the two countries to cooperate on peace and security matters include Afghanistan, counterterrorism, cross-border crime, international finance, global economic governance, the Korean peninsula and curbing the spread of nuclear weapons. Bilateral cooperation makes matters like the Korean peninsula manageable, he said. The ambassador added that this cooperation has already contributed to the overall security and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. 

In a discussion period following his speech, USIP Chairman Stephen J. Hadley asked Cui whether "we are better now in terms of our crisis management procedures." The ambassador welcomed the new mechanisms for dialogue, communication and coordination, and said that improved understanding of crisis management on both sides. He also noted that enhancing military-to-military relations was an indispensable part of the new model for U.S.-China cooperation, nodding to some improvement in the last two years. 

Hadley also asked the ambassador about China's influence over North Korea's nuclear ambitions and stability, commenting that many in the U.S. believe that North Korea could be a potentially divisive topic between the U.S. and China. 
The ambassador responded that China was deeply concerned about the nuclear capability of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and about the risks of another war or armed conflict – as that would directly impact China's national security interests. China has always stood for the denuclearization of the entire peninsula, he said. Stressing that this problem cannot be solved by China alone, Cui called for an intensified effort to move forward with the six-party talks. 

Upon the event's conclusion, Stephanie Kleine-Ahlbrandt, director of USIP's Asia-Pacific programs, said, "I welcome Amb. Cui Tiankai's constructive remarks and his emphasis on areas in which U.S.-China interests converge and where we can expand cooperation, while at the same time underlining the need to carefully manage issues on which we disagree." 

Kleine-Ahlbrandt added, "It was a very appropriate way to launch the 6th round of the USIP's U.S.-China Project on Crisis Avoidance and Cooperation," a track 1.5 dialogue running from today until Friday. 

The dialogue, established in 2008 with the China Institutes for Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) and Fudan University, seeks to establish and strengthen recurring channels to address pressing policy issues, avoid crises and increase cooperation in unstable areas. 

At the meeting this week, both sides will discuss management of the East China Sea crisis, management of North Korean nuclear and conventional scenarios, and how to deal with the threat of rising instability in Afghanistan and the wider region.

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April 10, 2014