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February 25, 2018
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China underplays Trump’s bluster targeting Beijing and MoscowRather than promote rivalry, the US “should join hands with China in building a new model of major-country relations:” People’s Daily

Avoiding a knee-jerk response, China reacted with characteristic caution to U.S. President’s maiden state-of-the Union address, which targeted Beijing and Moscow as “rivals”.

The website of People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China (CPC), remarked that rather than promote “malicious rivalry, the United States should join hands with China in building a new model of major-country relations, featuring non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation”.

Mr. Trump on Wednesday had said that, “Around the world, we face rogue regimes, terrorist groups, and rivals like China and Russia that challenge our interests, our economy, and our values.”

He added: “In confronting these dangers, we know that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unmatched power is the surest means of our defence.”

‘New era’

The People’s Daily op-ed highlighted that the world had entered a “new era” where “there is no need for competition to be the biggest and strongest actor on the world stage.”

“The United States should abandon its zero-sum mentality and use its great strength to help foster an international environment that encourages dialogue rather than confrontation and partnerships rather than alliances.”

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang also did not fight fire- with- fire.

In response to a question during a press conference with visiting British Prime Minister Theresa May, Mr. Li stressed that the common interests of the US and China far outweigh our differences and disagreements.”

Earlier on Wednesday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying also shunned a combative approach in response to Mr. Trump’s remarks. “China and the United States share a wide range of common interests, and they are important ones. We do have our differences, but our common interests far outweigh our differences. The past and present has shown that cooperation is the only right choice for China and the US and a better future can only be realized by promoting win-win relations.”

View ties in a correct way: US

Yet the spokesperson counseled Washington to avoid “outdated notions as the Cold-War mentality and zero-sum game and view China and China-US relations in a correct way”.

The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post highlighted Mr.Trump’s references to China as a direct threat on all fronts. It noted that the US presidential address was a distinct from the stance adopted by his three immediate predecessors.

“In 2000, then US president Bill Clinton talked about the importance of engaging China and appealed to Congress to back the US’ effort to bring China into the World Trade Organisation. Six years later, President George W Bush referred to China as one of the “new competitors” along with India on the economic front.

In 2016, US president Barack Obama said only that the United States must not let China write the rules of global commerce,” the daily observed.

The SCMP saw in Mr. Trump’s address “another sign that Washington is putting great power rivalry at the heart of its national strategy”.

It said that the address reflected a “major shift in US defence priorities,” scripted in U.S. defence secretary Jim Mattis’s National Defence Strategy released in January. The document highlighted Washington’s renewed strategic focus on China and Russia.