The People’s Republic of China is the most populous country in the world, with a population of over 1.3 billion. It is also the third largest country in the world. Popularly referred to as ’The Middle Kingdom’ in classical Chinese literature, the term China is believed to be a corruption of the Sanskrit word ’Cina’, made famous by legendary Italian adventurer Marco Polo. The country shares its border with 14 countries and is fenced by the East China Sea, Yellow Sea, South China Sea and Korea Bay.
Politically, China practices an adapted brand of communism and socialism, one which allows its 22 provinces to co-exist with five autonomous regions and two special administrative regions (Macau and Hong Kong). The nation is effectively governed by the State Council, which is led by the President and Premier, under the watchful eye of the Communist Party of China and the People’s Liberation Army, which incidentally, is the largest army in the world.
China has the third largest economy in the world, and is the United States’ second biggest trading partner, with trade totaling $456.8 billion for the fiscal year 2010. However, China's exports to US exceed their import by a massive $273 billion, growing over three times in the past ten years. They are also our biggest foreign lender, holding various US Treasury instruments valued at almost a trillion dollars.
China's arrival as a major economic player has been privately attributed to its currency controls, a selective adherence to World Trade Organization policies, their policy of subsidizing national enterprises to fight off foreign competition and their lax enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights.
It is apparent that China needs to be brought into the bargaining table. But the question is, how?
Obama views China as one of the rising powers of the 21st century, and believes a more conciliatory
and pragmatic approach is the key towards improving the two nation’s relationship. He made his
intent clear in 2009 when he nominated the Utah Governor at the time, Jon Huntsman Jr., to become
the American Ambassador of China, convinced that the Republican’s experience in the region and
fluency in Mandarin made him the perfect choice for the role.
I know there are many who question how the United States perceives China's emergence. But as I
have said, in an interconnected world, power does not need to be a zero-sum game, and nations need
not fear the success of another. Cultivating spheres of cooperation -- not competing spheres of
influence -- will lead to progress in the Asia Pacific.
Now, as with any nation, America will approach China with a focus on our interests. And it's
precisely for this reason that it is important to pursue pragmatic cooperation with China on issues
of mutual concern, because no one nation can meet the challenges of the 21st century alone, and the
United States and China will both be better off when we are able to meet them together.
That's why we welcome China's effort to play a greater role on the world stage -- a role in which
their growing economy is joined by growing responsibility. China's partnership has proved critical
in our effort to jumpstart economic recovery. China has promoted security and stability in
Afghanistan and Pakistan. And it is now committed to the global nonproliferation regime, and
supporting the pursuit of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
So the United States does not seek to contain China, nor does a deeper relationship with China mean
a weakening of our bilateral alliances. On the contrary, the rise of a strong, prosperous China can
be a source of strength for the community of nations.
And so in Beijing and beyond, we will work to deepen our strategic and economic dialogue, and
improve communication between our militaries. Of course, we will not agree on every issue, and the
United States will never waver in speaking up for the fundamental values that we hold dear -- and
that includes respect for the religion and cultures of all people -- because support for human
rights and human dignity is ingrained in America. But we can move these discussions forward in a
spirit of partnership rather than rancor."
November 14, 2009: President Obama speaking at Suntory Hall in Tokyo, Japan