The vaccination program is well under way in most parts of the globe including in Southeast Asia- countries like Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia are all exercising respective immunisation programs to protect their citizens from the deadly Covid-19 virus. While actively getting the programs underway, the nations are also building their economy back after receiving a massive blow due to lockdown measures. Sectors are being opened by stages and the humming industrial machinery can be heard yet again, after a severe impact from the pandemic, the region needs a clear path to get its recovery plan activated.
Timely, the China-US tension is also taking a backseat when nations are all focusing on domestic issues to resolve, the recently concluded dialogue between the two giants seems to be constructive with progressive exchanges. The dialogue marked the first high-level contact between the two countries after Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart, Joe Biden, had a phone call on the eve of the Chinese Lunar New Year, and the first face-to-face talks between high-level officials of the two sides since Biden took office in January.
According to published reports of the candid meeting, Yang Jiechi a member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party iterated that the exchanges were on respective domestic and foreign policies as well as the bilateral relationship. The two presidents had also agreed that the two sides need to strengthen communication, manage differences and expand cooperation.
There has been much accusations by both parties, former President Donald Trump opened a case file against China accusing the nation of infringing IP rights to spying among other allegations, however till to-date there has been no proof or evidence offered. Tensions were further escalated with trade blocks and levies with both parties imposing unnecessary surcharges on commodities to manufactured goods. The sit down discussion is seen by the world leaders as a good start by the Biden administration but cautioned of expecting immediate results.
Echoing this sentiment, Peter B. Walker, senior partner emeritus at the U.S. worldwide management consulting firm McKinsey & Company, said patience is needed in amending China-U.S. relations. “If you come away with a much better understanding of each side’s priorities … and you have mutual respect from people getting to know each other better, I think that’s a good outcome,” said Walker.
The Chinese government’s view is for the two countries to have the responsibility, ability and wisdom to find a way for countries with different political systems to get along with each other, both sides have many concerns, but some of their doubts can be eased through discussions, while some long-existing problems can be managed through dialogues as well.
During the meet, various issues were brought up including on reciprocal arrangements for the COVID-19 vaccination of each side’s diplomats and consular officials, adjusting travel and visa policies according to the pandemic situation, and gradually promoting the normalisation of personnel exchanges. Notably, China and the United States decided to establish a joint working group on climate change, and agreed to maintain and enhance communication and coordination on a variety of global and regional affairs.
This will be good news for many countries who conduct trade with China and US, Malaysia which enjoys healthy relationship with both superpowers will welcome the outcome of the dialogue and support in any way it can. Coming to the table was the first step for these two, agreeing on there being a bigger problem threatening the world and needs to take precedent over national interest was another step in the right direction.