by Xinhua writer Shi Xiaomeng
BEIJING, Feb. 22 (Xinhua) -- This week marks the 50th anniversary of then U.S. President Richard Nixon's ice-breaking visit to China in 1972.
This historic event remains immensely inspirational after half a century, notably for Washington. Today, what many deem as the world's most important bilateral relationship has arrived at another critical juncture. Waves of anti-China sentiments inside the United States seem to be eating away the rational foundation for Washington's China policy and decision-making.
As a saying goes, a politician thinks of the next election, and a statesman thinks of the next generation. One key legacy of Nixon's China trip worth highlighting is that Nixon, who rose to political fame because of his anti-communism credentials, had chosen to transcend America's domestic politics and join then Chinese leaders to overcome huge ideological gaps, testifying to the statesmanship of foreseeing the trend of times.
Looking back, their political courage and wisdom has laid the groundwork for the formal establishment of bilateral diplomatic ties in 1979, and brought immense benefit for the two nations and the rest of the global community.
Today, the decision-makers in Washington need to learn from this legacy, and steer their China policy back onto the track of reason and pragmatism at an early date for the benefits of both countries.
Since the normalization of bilateral ties, China-U.S. cooperation in trade and economy, science and technology, as well as in cultural and people-to-people exchanges have brought tangible benefits to both nations and the entire human community.
Meanwhile, their coordination on international issues has largely made the Asia-Pacific region and the wider world safer.
Bilateral exchanges over the past half a century have testified to the fact that China and the United States both profit from cooperation and lose from confrontation, and so does the world as a whole.
A China-U.S. cooperative relationship is of more relevance and significance to the present-day world, where desperately needed is stronger synergy to cope with such urgent matters as COVID-19, climate change and economic recession.
Regrettably, the bilateral relationship, bereft of such a positive momentum for cooperation over the past years, and has been thrown into a quandary by the confrontational approach taken by China hawks in Washington.
Moreover, Washington repeatedly challenged Beijing's red line over the Taiwan question, flagrantly violating basic principles regarding bilateral exchanges laid down in the three China-U.S. joint communiques and pushing bilateral ties to the edge of abyss.
If in confrontation, China and the United States as well as the rest of the world will suffer. How China and the United States handle their relationship thereby bears heavily on the future of the world.
In a virtual meeting held in November last year, Chinese President Xi Jinping told his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, that the most important event in international relations over the past 50 years was the reopening and development of China-U.S. relations, which has benefited the two countries and the whole world.
The most important event in international relations in the coming 50 years will be for China and the United States to find the right way to get along, Xi said.
China's stance has been consistent of seeking to foster a healthy and stable relationship with the United States that features mutual respect, peaceful coexistence and win-win cooperation.
More importantly, Washington needs to take a more rational and pragmatic approach and explore more possibilities for the China-U.S. relationship. The dichotomy of categorizing a country as either a friend or a foe as in a Cold War mindset has already been obsolete in today's increasingly complicated and interdependent world. More specifically, Washington must bear in mind that the one-China principle is nonnegotiable.
It is natural for China and the United States to have some differences, be they on political systems or on development paths, and as two great nations, to have some fair and healthy competition. As long as they respect and truly understand each other, none of these can get in their way of working together to beat pandemics, curb global warming and build a more resilient global economy.
A fair judge is history, in which what a statesman does, be it right or wrong, be it an accomplishment or a failure, will all be recorded. It is hoped that Washington's decision-makers will, as Nixon ever did, make the right choice for China-U.S. relations that can stand the test of history. ■