Several experts on Tuesday refuted the accusation that China is a revisionist country where global governance is concerned, saying that the interests of the United States and the Asian country are not fundamentally incompatible.
The Trump administration, in its earlier released national security strategy, labeled China and Russia as U.S. competitors and revisionist nations. Its recent trade and diplomatic provocations against China have incited widespread fear that Washington is re-directing its engagement with Beijing in order to contain it.
While attending a debate over whether "U.S. and Chinese long-term interests are fundamentally incompatible," Susan Thornton, former acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, said China is not a revisionist country.
China and the United States both have an interest in the continuation of the international system, and both are permanent members of the UN Security Council, Thornton said.
"In this respect, I would argue that China is not revisionist, that China sees itself as wanting to prolong and continue the existing international order albeit with some changes," she said.
The debate is part of a string of events regarding U.S.-China relations co-hosted by the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings Institution and the Paul Tsai China Center at Yale Law School.
Thornton believed that the two countries' interests are not fundamentally incompatible, and there are ways to manage the differences via diplomacy.
"We have many interests in common with China," she said. "China and the U.S. are both interested in countering instability and conflict among regional hotspots."
The veteran diplomat said that the two nations must further their shared interests through diplomacy and cooperation.
To ensure that the U.S.-China relations are moving in a constructive direction, U.S. experts believed that mutual respect and reciprocity are required.
David Lampton, a professor and director of China Studies Emeritus at Johns Hopkins University, said that both sides have to work for "a framework towards balance as opposed to primacy by either."
Thornton echoed that view by saying that all concerns between the two nations "can be worked on so that they become either manageable or less problematic."
To maintain the momentum of bilateral engagement, Lampton said that the United States has state governments which have more compatible interests with China, and encouraged China and the United States to foster cooperation at provincial and local levels.
Thornton also said that "coming to the conclusion that this is some kind of fundamental incompatibilities is certainly not in the long-term interest of the United States and its allies."
Thornton said that despite the current hostility towards China, the U.S. relations with China will be better off in the future.
"We know that the U.S. wants to avoid conflict with China and maybe the most fundamental interest we have in common is the mutual desire to avoid conflict," she said.
China is willing to "continue to have a constructive relationship with the United States," Thornton added.
"We can find some common ground. We do have agency within our governments to cut through these increasingly tense, difficult, conflicting interests. Manage them well and look for those areas of commonality," she said.