SHANGHAI -- China and the U.S. have more constructive interaction in the Middle East than in some other regions of the world. The two countries have overlapping interests in maintaining peace and stability of the whole region in general and the Gulf sub-region in particular: managing the Iranian nuclear issue, continuing the Palestine-Israel peace process, safeguarding vital energy supply lines and supporting orderly and peaceful transitions of political, social and economic systems in the countries concerned.
In the absence of a common narrative shared by the U.S. and China, the two nations are likely to drift more rapidly apart. The relationship needs a new strategic concept for the future that is capable of sufficiently embracing both American and Chinese realities, as well as areas of potential common endeavor for the future, and to do so in language which is comprehensible and meaningful in both capitals. Trust builds on itself just as distrust builds on itself as well, compounding into deep enmity over time.
China's leaders need to look hard at the "Chinese Dream" they are trying to realize for their country and decide if that dream rests more on cooperation at this defining moment with the world's other largest economy, the United States, or on an absurd and outdated allegiance to the bizarre and historically obsolete feudal regime of the Kim family in Pyongyang.
This comes seven weeks after by far the largest global climate demonstrations in history, and amidst ongoing unrest in China about the filthy air in its cities. It isn't, in other words, a reason to slack off a bit in the ongoing fight for a livable climate, a fight our civilizations are in great danger of losing. If we want this to be a start, and not a finish, we've got to build even bigger and more powerful movements that push the successors of these gentlemen to meet what science demands. Today's an achievement for everyone who's held a banner, signed a petition, and gone to jail -- and a call for many more to join us going forward!
It is not apparent that policymakers in either the U.S. or China yet seem persuaded that accommodation is necessary. Both seem to underestimate the resolve of the other and hope that they can secure all they want because the other will back down to avoid confrontation. This is how Asia today most resembles Europe in 1914.