Not-So-Empty Talk

The Danger of China's “New Type of Great-Power Relations” Slogan

Paramilitary policemen salute as they attend a flag-raising ceremony in Nanjing, October 1, 2014. Courtesy Reuters

Ever since his February 2012 visit to Washington, Chinese President Xi Jinping has championed his vision for a “new type of great-power relations” between China and the United States. The Obama administration, in an apparent desire to avoid conflict with a rising China, seems to have embraced Xi’s formulation. In a major speech last November, U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice called on both sides to “operationalize” the concept. And during a March 2014 summit with Xi, U.S. President Barack Obama declared his commitment to “continuing to strengthen and build a new model of relations.”

In uncritically signing on to the “new type of great-power relations” slogan at the Obama-Xi Sunnylands summit in June 2013, the Obama administration fell into a trap. It has what is most likely its last major chance to dig itself out when Obama visits Beijing next month for a follow-up summit. And he should make

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