The U.S.-China Reset | NYTimes.com
Washington and Beijing blame each other for the growing tensions. The Obama administration believes that China’s assertiveness on territorial disputes and its military modernization must be met with countermeasures. Chinese leaders have grown increasingly antagonistic to U.S. diplomatic support for Vietnam, the Philippines and Japan in their territorial disputes with China. Most important, Beijing resents the so-called Asia pivot, Washington’s plan to beef up U.S. naval assets in the Western Pacific.
Thus the top foreign-policy priority for both leaders is to reset the tenor of Sino-American relations. Of course, given the near-collapse in Sino-Japanese relations, Xi will have to devote considerable energy to defusing tensions with Tokyo. But he must be aware of two interlocking realities: that U.S.-China relations are far more critical to China’s long-term interests, and that repairing ties with Tokyo will be only the first, but vital, step in that direction.
A reset could start with concrete measures to resolve territorial disputes with China’s neighbors, particularly Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines. Should Xi succeed, he would be able to demonstrate that China will abide by international law in resolving such issues. Success would remove the most dangerous underlying dynamic in the Sino-American strategic competition in East Asia.