Understanding President Trump’s First Visit to China
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Understanding President Trump’s First Visit to China

6th November 2017

Understanding President Trump’s First Visit to China

The below op-ed appeared at HuffPo on November 6, 2017. It was written by C100 Public Policy Chair Charlie Woo and C100 Chair Frank H. Wu. 

President Donald Trump’s upcoming visit to China to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping comes at an opportune moment in the U.S.-China relationship. Seeking to put his own stamp on U.S. foreign policy, he will face a Chinese president who has gained tremendous stature from China’s recent 19th Party Congress. All this at a time when 92% of the Chinese public (up from 74% in 2012) thinks that China is headed on the right track, according to a recent 2017 Committee of 100 U.S.-China Public Perceptions Opinion Survey.

The Committee of 100, a non-partisan organization of prominent Chinese Americans with a mission to foster constructive relations between the peoples of the U.S. and China, has been conducting surveys since 1994 that measure the attitudes of Americans and Chinese towards each other, and on issues such as economics, geopolitics, and culture. The recent survey findings not only provide a context to understanding the upcoming visit but can help guide policy.

When a President who thrives on deal-making sits down with a President who is empowered more than ever to deal and deliver on his promises, this is a perfect occasion for both to negotiate some concrete outcomes that will benefit each country.

To be sure, survey data shows real fears and concerns Americans and Chinese harbor about each other. Americans perceive China’s emerging military power and global economic power as threats. In addition, the trade deficit, loss of jobs to China, cybersecurity and industrial espionage are the top concerns for Americans. The Chinese are most concerned about the U.S. military presence in Asia and the U.S.’s perceived intention to contain China.

None of these military, geopolitical, and security concerns are going to be resolved overnight, and will require continuous good faith dialogue. But if left unaddressed, these concerns will only breed even more distrust. Already in 2017, 80% of Chinese, up from 56% in 2012, think China should not trust the U.S., a point potentially tied to increasing Chinese perceptions that the U.S. is trying to contain China (61% of Chinese believe the U.S. is trying to prevent China from becoming a great power, up from 52% in 2012 and 45% in 2007).

In contrast, around two thirds of Americans have consistently seen themselves as accepting China’s rise and wanting a collaborative relationship. This disconnect highlights an area that needs to be addressed. In working through issues of conflict, it is important for both sides to acknowledge concerns on each side, minimize misinterpretations of the other’s intention, treat each other with respect, and articulate shared goals.

At the same time, the U.S. and China do have converging interests they can build upon. Survey findings show that Americans and Chinese actually agree about the top three areas in which both countries would benefit from working together: trade, global financial stability, and the environment. Respondents in both countries also see the need to collaborate in reducing tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The topic of bi-lateral trade has the greatest potential for immediate cooperation and mutually beneficial outcomes. Although Americans are highly concerned about the U.S.-China trade deficit, over 80% of both Americans and Chinese agree that trade with the other country is beneficial to their own country’s economy. Data also shows that business leaders, policy experts and journalists in both countries cite working out trade agreements as a key way to improve trust.

Another way to improve mutual sentiments is through increased cultural and educational exchanges. Survey data shows that being exposed to the art and culture of the other country has an overwhelmingly positive effect, generally producing a more favorable impression of that country. Visitations and study abroad were also well regarded.

Both Presidents Xi and Trump have a high stake in ensuring a positive outcome to their meeting. Public opinion indicates that jobs and the economy are the primary domestic concern in both countries. This upcoming meeting provides the perfect opportunity for both leaders to address their number one domestic issue by coming up with concrete trade and investment agreements that would benefit both countries. Both Trump and Xi are said to have a strong personal relationship. President Trump also appears to enjoy some goodwill from the Chinese people (32% of the Chinese public thinks that the U.S.-China relationship will improve under Trump’s leadership, while 23% thinks it will get worse). The two leaders should leverage their relationship and make the most of this moment in history to advance the prosperity of their countries.

The Committee of 100 is a non-partisan leadership organization of prominent Chinese Americans in business, government, academia, and the arts. For over 25 years, the Committee has been committed to a dual mission of promoting the full participation of Chinese Americans in all fields of American life, and encouraging constructive relations between the peoples of the United States and Greater China. www.committee100.org

Since 1994, C100 has been conducting a unique mirror survey of American attitudes towards China and Chinese attitudes towards America. The latest survey, which forms the basis for the above op-ed, can be accessed at these links: English survey report | Chinese survey report.





中美关系目前正处于关键时刻, 特朗普 (Trump) 总统即将访华并会晤中国国家主席习近平。意在美国外交政策方面寻求其个人影响力的特朗普, 将面对中共十九大之后地位和声誉剧增的中国国家主席。根据百人会近期发表的2017年中美民意调查报告显示, 92% (相比于2012年74%) 的中国百姓认为中国正朝着正确的方向发展。

百人会作为一个由杰出美籍华人领袖组成的非党派团体, 一贯以推动中美双边建设性关系为使命。自1994年以来,百人会就中美民众对彼此人民, 以及经济、地缘政治和文化的看法作过多次调研。最近发表的民意调查报告不仅为特朗普总统为什么访华提供了背景资料, 更主要的是有助于华府制定对华政策。

一位是擅于谈判与交易的美国总统, 一位是绝对拥有交易和兑现承诺实权的国家主席, 他们的会晤将成为双方通过谈判, 取得有利于各自国家的实质性成果的最佳时机。

当然, 百人会的调查数据确实也显示了中美民众之间对彼此所持有的忧虑和不安。美国民众认为中国日益崛起的军事实力和全球性经济地位对美国构成威胁, 贸易赤字, 因中国而失去优势的劳工市场, 网络安全以及行业情报间谍也都是美国人最大的担忧。与此同时, 中国民众最为担忧的是美军势力在亚洲的存在, 他们普遍认为美国企图挟制中国。

所有这些军事, 地缘政治以及国家安全问题都不会立刻得到彻底解决, 需要双边持续对话, 并持信任态度。但是,如果任其发展, 这些忧虑将导致彼此间更大的不信任。数据表明, 2017年80%的中国人认为中国不应该相信美国, 与2012年的56%相比, 大幅上升。这个观点可能与越来越多的中国人认为美国企图挟制中国有关 (2017年的调研表明61%的中国人相信美国企图阻挠中国成为世界大国, 持此观点者在2012年和2007年分别是52%和45%)。

相比之下, 大约有三分之二的美国人认可中国的崛起,并期待中美建立合作关系。双边民意的脱节突出了中美问题函待处理的必要。然而,解决冲突,双方必需互相认可对方所担忧的问题所在,尽可能地降低对对方的误解,彼此互相尊重,寻求共同目标。

与此同时, 在贸易, 全球金融稳定和环保三个主要领域, 中美两国受访者达成共识, 一致认为两国可以互惠互利, 合作共赢。此外, 中美受访者均表示两国需要合作以缓减朝鲜半岛的紧张局势。

双边贸易的议题最有可能产生显著的合作和互利结果。尽管美方对美中之间的贸易逆差极其担忧, 但超过80%的中美民众都同意中美贸易对各自国家的经济有利。与此同时, 调研数据也显示中美两国的商业领袖, 政策专家以及媒体记者认为达成贸易协定是提高双边信任的关键。


特朗普总统和习近平主席都期待双方会晤的成功,以确保其各自国家的切身利益。公众舆论显示就业和经济是两国最担心的问题。此次会晤将为两国领导人就各自最关注的国内问题, 以及双边互惠互利, 具有实质性的贸易和投资协议提供了会谈和协商的良机。有报道称特朗普总统和习近平主席具有良好的私人关系, 中国民众似乎还对特朗普总统颇有好感(32%的中国民众认为中美关系在特朗普任职期间会好转, 23%认为会变差)。两国领导人应该充分利用他们的关系以及此次历史性的会晤来促进双方国家的繁荣兴旺。

百人会是一个由杰出美国华人组成的非党派团体, 成员来自商界, 政界, 学术, 和文艺界。成立二十五年来, 百人会一直致力于其两大使命, 推动美国华人在美国社会各领域的全面参与, 促进美国与大中华地区人民之间的建设性关系。更多信息: www.committee100.org.

自1994年起, 百人会在中美两国展开公众对彼此的态度民意调查, 以互相的态度为“镜”, 相互对照, 是一系列非常独特的调查报告。最近一次民意调查的数据构成了本评论的基础。报告全文参见如下链接:英文报告 | 中文报告.


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