China Daily Reported Michael Pillsbury's Visit to Pangoal
China Daily Reported Michael Pillsbury's Visit to Pangoal

A senior US strategist said China and the United States should avoid a “comprehensive confrontation, ... while reducing their differences”.

Michael Pillsbury, director of the Center for Chinese Strategy at the Hudson Institute in Washington, made the remarks on Saturday at a seminar hosted by Pangoal Institution, a Beijing -based think tank, while adding that “the possibility of improved relations between the two sides exists”.

It is possible that China-US relations will improve under US president--elect Donald Trump, although a delicate period of nine or 10 months might lie ahead, said Pillsbury, who advises Trump on China policy.

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s proposals such as the “new type of major-country relationship” and the Belt and Road Initiative were neither approved nor supported by the Obama administration, he said.

During a hearing on Wednesday, Trump’s nominee for US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, former Exxon Mobil Corp chairman and chief executive, referred to Beijing’s reclamation works on reefs and islets in the South China Sea as “an illegal taking of disputed areas without regard for international norms” and proposed to restrict access to those islands. He also blamed China for “not being a reliable partner” in defusing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

However, Tillerson told the US Senate Committeeon Foreign Relations, “I don’t know of any plans to alter the one China position,” which Pillsbury described as “a sigh of relief”for Beijing inanarticle published in National Interest magazine on Thursday.

Washington should prioritize addressing Islamic extremism, not the South China Sea issue, said Yuan Peng, vice- president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

“Tillerson’s comments are preliminary statements and not to be taken too seriously,” Yuan said, adding that Trump is open to different opinions from his ministers, hence one “cannot take the testimony of a Cabinet member as Trump’s own view”.

Ruan Zongze, vice -president of the China Institute of International Studies, said the biggest change in China--US relations is that Beijing has become a “constant”, while Washington appears to be an “uncertainty”. Unpredictable as he is, Trump is unlikely to alter the trajectory of cooperation between the two nations, Ruan said.

After all, the road to “Make America Great Again” leads to Beijing, as bilateral cooperation will be increasingly more important, Pillsbury said.

Trump’s ambition to double the US’ economic growth rate, which has remained at
about 2 percent over the past 30 years, and increase jobs at home, mirrors his focus on trade, he said. “To do this, one factor is to reduce our trade deficit from $500 billion to zero. That means the country that takes most American exports really helps.”

A meeting on Jan 9 between Trump and Jack Ma, founder of e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding, bodes well for both small and medium-sized US companies struggling to export their products and China’s image, Pillsbury said.

If Alibaba spends millions of dollars buying from these companies, that could create many jobs in the US, he added.

From China Daily, By Cui Shoufeng

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