Fostering a Strategic Relationship with China: A Unification Perspective


China’s President Xi Jinping met President Obama at Sunnylands, California in early June.

By Mark P. Barry, Lecturer in Management, UTS

Mark Barry Photo 2In April 2007, I attended a conference that gathered at the Cheon Jeong Gung “Peace Palace” in Cheongpyeong for True Parents’ Day. After Rev. Moon’s Founder’s Address, I walked out to the Palace terrace with a Chinese guest and friend who was a retired senior officer in the People’s Liberation Army and head of one of China’s major think tanks. In the heart of Cheongpyeong, we discussed the outlines of a joint conference on cross strait relations held later that year in Macau. Given the significance of where we stood, I couldn’t help but feel there was a spiritual imperative behind the discussion of future efforts at cooperation with a Chinese delegate.

In 1998, I often showed my students a PBS documentary on China’s efforts to modernize from abject poverty. By 2010, China overtook Japan as the world’s second-largest economy. To some, we now live in a bipolar world of two superpowers, the U.S. and China. More than ever, China has to be reckoned with by the United States, by the two Koreas — and by the Unification Movement itself.

On a global level, U.S. relations with China must be handled very judiciously. But for North and South Korea, China is their large neighbor, which has inescapable implications. For the international Unification Movement, based in South Korea, it would be wise to foster a strategic relationship with China; that is how one must deal with a nation that may otherwise misunderstand you and cause difficulty.

Recently, China has begun to speak about a “new type of great power relationship” with regard to the United States, the established hegemonic power. What China means is to distinguish the “new type” from the “old type” of great power relationship previously witnessed in history. The question is how these two continental powers can take a different course than previous great powers who were in competition. In history, conflict and war between two major powers sometimes occurred not simply by the increase in material power of the rising challenger but because of the fear it instilled in the established power.

What this implies is that trust-building between the two great powers is vital for the success of a new type of great power relationship. President Obama’s June meeting in California with Chinese President Xi Jinping was a start. The challenge is to find a way to share responsibilities and resolve current problems. China and the U.S. need to identify common ground in the realm of ideas and philosophy, as well as in the sustainability of existing markets and the economy.

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