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Jakarta Post

China open to US pivot

Su Zhou
Beijing   ●   Thu, March 12, 2015

China is ready to welcome the United States strategic rebalancing to Asia-Pacific if it is constructive to the region's peaceful cooperation, but will oppose it if it is counterproductive, the Chinese ambassador to the US said on Wednesday.

Cui Tiankai made the comment when summarising China's position on the issue in an interview with China Daily.

Beijing acknowledges and respects the US interests and existence in the region, said Cui, who is attending the annual meeting of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Beijing.

Fears have been voiced by some people that China's rise will "squeeze" the US presence in Asia-Pacific, and that even if China has no such intentions, its development will pose a challenge to the US leadership.

Cui said China's development is aimed at raising its people's living standards, but not to the detriment of any other country's interests or global influence. "From China's cultural traditions to its diplomatic philosophy, it has never harboured the goal of being a world leader."

China doesn't want other countries to follow its orders, he said.

Cui said he is looking forward to president Xi Jinping's visit to the US later this year at the invitation of president Barack Obama.

He said Xi's first state visit to the US as Chinese president will feature "a rich agenda", but he did not give further details.

"We're still talking (with the US).It's also hard to predict what will happen in the world in the next six months "before Xi's visit, which is planned for September.

"But we'll make ample preparations for a successful meeting between the two heads of state," said Cui.

He said the two countries have always had cooperation as well as contradictions. But more recently the relationship has featured working together, rather than contradicting each other. "Cooperation should always be greater than contradiction," Cui said.

"Of course, I wouldn't like to hear the US make groundless criticisms of China from time to time. But if it has questions or concerns, let's talk. We have many channels to communicate, to clarify the basic facts and to enhance mutual understanding."

On the other hand, so-called microphone diplomacy, or making hasty media statements, evades the real issue and is better avoided, the ambassador said, without mentioning Obama's criticism of China's planned counter-terrorism rules in an interview with Reuters on March 2.

China and the US should work together by managing disagreements constructively, he said.

Such management of disagreements by China and the US in the past two years had "not been bad" even though progress had fallen short of his expectations, he said.

Despite their historical, cultural and political differences, the two nations have tackled some difficult issues together, sharing an attitude of constructive cooperation, he said.

This year, China and the US are poised to continue dialogue and communication in many areas, including the military, Cui added. (***)