Full coverage: President Xi Visits U.S.
Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to the US comes amid the two sides' pledge to push for a "new type of great power relations." Though tensions come part and parcel of ties between great powers, China and the US have vowed to navigate those dangerous waters through dialogue.
Managing relations between great powers is a tricky affair.Today, the key question is whether the world's two largest economies can avoid Thucydides' trap -- referring to the fear a rising power causes in an established power, leading to war.
China and the US believe they can avoid the trap. During a meeting between Presidents Xi and Obama in June 2013, the two sides agreed to establish a "new type of great power relations".
"A "new type of great power relations" means -- avoiding conflict, confrontation, and treating each other with mutual respect, and cooperation toward win-win results. The purpose of the concept is peaceful coexistence and common development between China, a fast rising power in the world, and the United States, a ruling power," said Da Wei, director of American studies in China institutes of Contemporary Int'l Relations.
And relations have softened since 2013 with Obama visiting China last year, and other notable high-level meetings taking place.
"Bilateral ties have been fruitful in the last few years. One example is the visits by both presidents, and the long talks they held. Current channels of communication have also developed well, with the China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and the Sino-US Cultural Exchange of High-level Consultation Mechanism," Da Wei said.
President Xi's visit comes amid heated competition leading up to the US presidential elections next year. Candidates have butted heads in debates over a number of issues with the US' policies on China ranking high among them. The hope is that Xi Jinping's visit will move dialogue forward.
"The Obama administration has over one year in office. We hope that the visit can narrow differences between China and the US and further strengthen the "new type of great power relations" by showing Americans the benefits of cooperation. It will play an important role in influencing the Obama administration, as well as the next administration," Da Wei said.
Though China has often repeated its intentions for peaceful development, many remain concerned by its rising power and influence in the world. Xi Jinping's visit represents an effort to ensure the two powers can sidestep traps and misunderstandings and continue progressing.