Interview: U.S., China need not be each other's "major problem," says U.S. scholar-Xinhua

Interview: U.S., China need not be each other's "major problem," says U.S. scholar

Source: Xinhua

Editor: huaxia

2024-01-16 22:04:45

by Xinhua writer Deng Xianlai

ATLANTA, United States, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- The United States and China should take courage not to "defer hard decisions" for the future but bear in mind that they need not be the "major problem" for each other, said David Lampton, a leading U.S. scholar on China.

A disbelief in the effectiveness of deferring hard decisions was how Lampton, professor emeritus of China studies at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, used to describe one aspect of former U.S. President Jimmy Carter's personality. The 99-year-old was praised for his decisiveness in determining to establish diplomatic relations with China 45 years ago.

"Don't defer hard decisions. I think that most decisions don't get easier the more complicated you let them become," Lampton said during a panel discussion, part of a Jan. 9 forum hosted by the Carter Center in Atlanta, Georgia, to commemorate the 45th anniversary of China-U.S. diplomatic relations.

Lampton formerly served as president of the National Committee on United States-China Relations and remains a go-to scholar on China in the United States. He told Xinhua that the hard decision right now for Washington and Beijing is to recognize the reality that "we both have bigger problems than each other."

Lampton said that at a time when the United States and China both have their respective internal problems while facing a world where peace is being sabotaged in multiple areas, "we don't need each other as another major problem for ourselves."

"That's the hard decision," Lampton said. "The rest is rhetoric."

In retrospect, Lampton said one of the lessons to be learned from the Carter era as regards China-U.S. relations is the necessity of conducting regular high-level discussions. "Some of (the discussions) is secret until there's a reaching of understanding," he said, recalling those talks in the bygone era aimed at normalizing China-U.S. ties.

As for today, Lampton suggested, "two of our most senior leaders get together on a regular schedule and talk about global developments and how both of our countries can contribute to lessening problems."

He said that instead of focusing solely on "our bilateral cooperation," Washington and Beijing need to expand their vision, seeking cooperation on global issues by putting it "in the context."

"And that will breed -- I think, if we cooperate -- more trust," he said.

At the Carter Center forum, Lampton alluded to what he understood was Carter's belief that the United States ought to have a national strategy of "building a society-to-society relationship and a network of relations among bureaucracies" when it comes to developing diplomatic relations with a foreign country.

It is thanks to these inter-societal and inter-bureaucratic relationships between the United States and China that "we've been able to weather the storms that we have weathered today," Lampton said.

Off-stage during the interview with Xinhua, Lampton called for "lots of work" by both sides to further remove policy hurdles impeding people-to-people exchanges, especially concerning programs for scholars and students to visit and study in each other's country.

Carter adopted "Waging Peace," together with "Fighting Disease" and "Building Hope," as not only the motto of the Carter Center, but also part of the title of his 2007 memoir reminiscing his life post-presidency.

Lampton said during the panel discussion that Carter, in his relentless pursuit for peace, believes that "you have to take the risk for peace," and as part of the risk-taking effort, "you have to build trust."

"If I always suspect you and you always suspect me, then we're going to have a competition that ends no good way," Lampton told Xinhua, referring to the concerns of an arms race between the United States and China.

"We have to develop trust in each other that we are not going to use every advantage to your disadvantage," Lampton said.

"It takes courage in your own society to take the lead in dealing with another society with which you have problems," he added. Enditem

(Xinhua reporters Xu Jianmei and Hu Yousong contributed to this story.)