First, the United States’ long-standing complaints — about trade imbalances, intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers, and unfair barriers to U.S. investments and business operations in China — must be addressed quickly and effectively. Neither country should use “national security” as an excuse to obstruct the other’s legitimate commercial activities. China needs competition for its economy to innovate and grow; pursuing a fair and reciprocal relationship is the only way for both countries to remain economically strong.
Second, Americans must acknowledge that, just as China has no right to interfere in U.S. affairs, we have no inherent right to dictate to China how to govern its people or choose its leaders. Though even countries with the closest of relationships may critique each other at times, such engagements should never become directives or edicts; they should rather serve as a two-way street of open dialogue. China’s achievements in sustaining economic growth, alleviating abject poverty and providing developmental assistance to other countries need to be celebrated. At the same time, we cannot ignore its deficiencies in Internet censorship, policies toward minorities and religious restrictions — which should be recorded and criticized.
This balanced approach is key to ensuring that the United States and China continue to work together toward solving some of the most intractable global problems.