This coming Friday, President Obama and China’s new president, Xi JinPing, will meet for the first time to discuss the future of their countries’ relationship. The dynamic between China and the United States has historically been tense. From the polar difference in their ideologies to Xi’s predecessors’ support of North Korea, the notion of a future conflict erupting between these world superpowers seems rather likely. However, while meeting Obama’s security advisor Tom Donilon last week in Beijing, Xi expressed his desire to improve and expand the United States and China’s relationship. Xi told Donilon that currently, the United States and China are at a “critical juncture” and that it is time to explore “a new type of great power relationship.” As a leader, Xi has already demonstrated that he is more strategic, open, confident, and willing to candidly discuss China’s issues than his predecessors were. For example, Xi has already convinced Kim Jong-un, leader of North Korea, to resume discussion regarding the expansion of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Sound promising?
At Friday’s conference, the leaders will most likely discuss North Korea, the global economy, the East China Sea, South China Sea, as well as the alleged Chinese cyberattacks. Although Obama and Xi are making an effort to work together cooperatively, each leader has their own agenda they will undoubtedly try and adhere to. Obama hopes to establish stronger strategic communications between the two militaries so that they can deal with regional problems in Asia together. He will also most likely attempt to have a legitimate discussion about the growing number of cyberattacks and theft of industrial secrets. The United States has suffered daily computer break-ins, and confidential information including negotiating strategies and plans for next-generation fight jets and gas control pipeline systems have all been stolen. As of June 1st, the United States and China have agreed to hold regular conversations that will set standards of behavior for cyber security and commercial espionage; however, the Chinese government still insists that it is a victim, not a perpetrator of these attacks.
Currently, the only concrete goal Xi and Obama share is that regarding North Korea. It is evident that Xi has less of a sentimental attachment to Korea’s leaders than his predecessors. Previously, the Chinese government didn’t confront North Korea about their nuclear programs, but now, according to The Global Times, China will no longer allow North Korea’s weapons program to affect the stability of Asia. Ultimately, what Xi is expecting out of this “great power relationship” is still relatively unknown. Obviously, as two enormously powerful countries it would be extremely beneficial if the United States and China could work together to improve global issues, but it has been hard to conceptualize and concretize what exactly they plan to accomplish. Hopefully some of these goals will be revealed on Friday, and the notion of China and the United States becoming allies will no longer seem so far fetched.
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