2015 U.S. – China Summit: Prospects for the U.S. – China Relations

2015 U.S. - China Summit: Prospects for the U.S. - China Relations

Mo Se Kim

Xi Jinping paid his first visit to the United States as the President of People’s Republic of China. President Xi is expected to meet with President Obama, U.N. Secretary Ban Ki-Moon, and other leading business leaders from the United States. Even amidst tensions between the U.S. and China, President Obama and Xi still managed to hold a bilateral meeting in Washington, D.C. Now the question remains: what should we expect from this meeting of the world’s leading superpowers?


A mood of distrust has dominated recent relations between the United States and China. After the unknown exposure of at least 22 million databases from the Office of Personnel Management, the U.S. Intelligence Chief James Clapper said that China is a leading suspect of this hacking crisis. However, the tension over cybersecurity has dissipated a bit as the United States and China agreed to cooperate in cybercrime investigations, and not to knowingly support any hacking activities against each other. This cybersecurity deal is notable because it shows the two superpowers promoting peace in cyber space and championing it as a new norm in the international community. More importantly, this process of building trust discredits the rumor that the U.S. is attempting to impose economic sanctions on China for cybersecurity violations.

Economic Cooperation

According to the White House, President Xi Jinping is expected to meet leading U.S. business leaders, such as Mark Zuckerberg, at the China State Dinner held by the White House. President Xi is willing to draw more foreign direct investment because he is desperate to get the Chinese economy back on track in light of recent falls. China and the United States have been working on reaching a settlement on a bilateral investment treaty (BIT), which allows foreign companies to invest under the legal protection. Their negotiation failed to settle issue completely as an influx of foreign companies creates more economic and political threats. For example, Facebook is banned in China because the Chinese Communist Party is afraid that Facebook can stir the Chinese population to make pro-democracy protests. Even so, President Xi is desperate to invigorate the Chinese economy because continued economic struggle would prevent China from developing to the level it desires, and ultimately decrease its geopolitical influence. President Xi’s promise of cybersecurity protection ensures American business leaders that Chinese economic and political system can be trusted.

Global Peace

President Obama and Xi agreed to collaborate to help Afghanistan fight global terrorism. Their aid to Afghanistan indicates that the willingness of the U.S. and China to increase their influence to promote peace in the Middle East, which is consistently being torn apart by terrorism. Moreover, the representatives of the U.S., China, and Afghanistan will gather on the U.N. General Assembly with Afghanistan’s neighboring countries to discuss about international cooperation to bring the regional stability. On top of that issue, President Obama and Xi are expected to address these issues to solve these problems that would deter peace in Asian regions such as the South China Sea Conflict, Japan’s passage in security bills, and North Korea’s nuclear weapons.

Environmental Issue

Prior to the climate change conference in Paris, President Obama and Xi set a landmark accomplishment on the issues of climate changes. According to White House press release, in addition to the United States’ $3 billion support, China also agreed to support $3 billion dollar to financially aid the developing countries in an effort to combat global climate change. They also agreed to adopt the cap-and-trade program, which puts a curb on carbon emissions and gives an incentive to those companies that emitted below the standard. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, which failed because the U.S. and China did not reach an agreement to reduce carbon emissions, the Paris Protocol in 2015 looks more auspicious as these two leaders share a same vision to fight against climate change.

The impact of the U.S. – China Summit can be significant especially because countries as powerful as the United States and China have huge influences on our daily lives. Likewise, it is very crucial that these two nations collaborate with each other rather than compete against each other – their competition can bring unseen, sometimes overt, tension just like what happened during the Cold War. Global peace can be even more strengthened with the support of the U.S. and China. Therefore, the U.S. – China Summit is not only beneficial to these two countries but also to the rest of the world. The very first step towards their collaboration is to re-build trust that once had been damaged by cyber hacking and the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands dispute.

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