The US and China are engaged in a dance of global partnership in which the two tightly embrace or wriggle warily in tandem at a distance, depending on the background music. At the same time, where there is overlap in the perceived spheres of influence, the music stops and the two countries argue over who calls the tune.
The president of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino, became the second of two close American allies (after Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe) to shake hands with President Xi Jinping of China this week. Xi and Aquino shared promises to constructively manage tensions in the South China Sea, a promising step forward after several years of maritime incursions into territory both countries claim as their own.
As the price of oil crumbles, declining over 25% since June, the consequences on the Russian economy have been drastic. What American and European sanctions (brought as a result of the annexation of Crimea) and the Ukraine crisis failed to do to the Russian economy, the declining price of oil has done.
The costs to cities, coastlines and crops, as well as to the health and livelihoods of thousands, are mounting. China and the United States show the necessary determination to build a future based on low emissions through clean energy and livable cities because it makes sense for the environment and economies.
In Beijing on Monday, U.S. President Barack Obama called on China to be a "partner in underwriting the international order" instead of "undermining" it. One key American strategist, Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, is strongly promoting the idea that Obama's notion should be pushed further and formalized into a "Pacific Charter."
Now that Xi and Abe have had their icy handshake, China and Japan need to move forward. Hotlines are necessary, but so is continued leadership: for President Xi, to ensure that anti-Japanese nationalism does not dictate policy towards Tokyo; for Prime Minister Abe, to tamp down tendencies towards historical revisionism.