“One of America’s clearest and most compelling interests is to develop a positive and constructive U.S.-China relationship.”
Secretary Kerry’s statement at the recent U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) is consistent with President Obama’s priority for the United States to make a military, diplomatic, and economic rebalance to Asia. And while the President and his administration have taken great strides to improve ties with regional partners Japan and Korea and serve as an arbiter of maritime and territorial disputes, the U.S.-China relationship has emerged as the United States’ highest priority. President Obama said in March 2014 “that this bilateral relationship has been as important as any bilateral relationship in the world,” aspiring to realize Chinese President Xi Jinping’s proposition of a new type of major power relations.
China has taken advantage of this dynamic: undermining U.S. credibility in the region with allies and partners, successfully advocating for imbalanced cooperation efforts, and derailing progress on more substantive issues by putting the United States on the defensive in order to prove its priorities in the region.