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
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。
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
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。
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