At U.S.-China Summit, Leaders Talk of Avoiding Another Cold War

President Obama and President Xi Jinping met informally in Southern California to discuss “a new model” of relations between the U.S. and China. As both nations compete for global trade and influence, the relationship has often been compared to the tense state of affairs that once existed between the U.S. and Soviet Union during the Cold War. At one point during the summit, Xi remarked that “China and the United States must find a new path—one that is different from the inevitable confrontation and conflict between the major countries of the past”.

The discussions focused on areas of cooperation, rather than tensions between the two great powers. Although, observers noted that cyber security issues dominated the economics portion of the talks. However, even more noteworthy, is how both powers are actively engaged in a heated competition for resources and trade deals in Latin America. Both leaders have been courting the region lately, hoping to capitalize on its growing wealth.

Interest in Latin America appears to be growing on both sides of the pacific. Last month, President Obama traveled to Mexico and Costa Rica. Upon his return, he played host to the presidents of Chile and Peru to discuss Trans-Pacific trade agreements; (which China covets as well). Prior to his California meeting, the Chinese president also traveled to Costa Rica and Mexico. He even managed to visit Trinidad and Tobago just after Vice-President Joe Biden was there.

It seems unlikely that trade competition could ignite into anything remotely resembling the Cold War conflicts of the past. However, intense rivalry in the region may lead to tensions that could affect trade negotiations and future Sino-U.S. relations. China, for its part, is competing with other BRICS nations to exploit underdeveloped markets (such as Africa). Meanwhile, the U.S. (which has been neglecting these markets for decades) may be losing economic opportunities it has long taken for granted.

Swampland

China’s President Xi Jinping announced that he was looking for the establishment of a “new model of major country relationship” with the United States, as he expressed urgency in taking steps to prevent another Cold War at a carefully orchestrated meeting this weekend with President Obama on isolated 200-acre Sunnylands estate.

“China and the United States must find a new path—one that is different from the inevitable confrontation and conflict between the major countries of the past,” Xi told reporters Friday after his first session with Obama.

In public statements, President Obama welcomed the effort. “We shared our respective visions for our countries’ futures and agreed that we’re more likely to achieve our objectives of prosperity and security of our people if we are working together cooperatively, rather than engaged in conflict,” Obama said.

The informal meeting on the West Coast instead of a state visit to Washington lacked…

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