The year 2007 was significant for the relations between China and the United States. In retrospect, while the biggest developing country and the most developed one may find their ties in the past year satisfying, there are no doubt mixed feelings that flow through the relationship.
A number of highlights emerged. Top leaders from the two nations met twice, besides their regular exchange of phone calls. Their top officials spoke on issues of common concern through better-established mechanisms, such as strategic dialogues and the Strategic Economic Dialogue. China and the United States made joint efforts to break the North Korean nuclear deadlock and contribute to the peace plan in Darfur. The two nations also maintained favorable interaction in preventing the Taiwan authorities from seeking UN membership under the name of Taiwan. The United States became an approved destination for Chinese tourists. The two countries also set up a military hotline. The record of business and trade between the two was also impressive. In 2007, China became the largest source of imports and third largest export market of the United States; meanwhile, the United States achieved the fastest export growth to China.
There were also lows, mostly in the field of trade, with disagreements on the U.S. trade imbalance, exchange rate of the yuan, intellectual property protection and market access in China. Along with these came accusations about the safety of made-in-China products, China's angry response to the United States honoring the Dalai Lama and growing protectionism on the U.S. side. These all added up to squabbles and bickering between Beijing and Washington. Besides, China's anti-satellite space test in early 2007 and the initial denial of permission for a U.S. aircraft carrier to dock in Hong Kong in November also sparkled criticism from Americans.
Just like a coin has two sides, the coexistence of those positive and negative aspects of the bilateral relations between China and the United States is natural. Maintaining stability and their growing interdependence still dominated the theme of the bilateral ties in the past year. The trend will continue in 2008.
On the one hand, their trade will continue to grow; cooperation on international and regional issues will expand and be upgraded; channels of communication will be further explored, and exchanges in culture and sports will keep deepening, especially with the Beijing Olympics being held in August.
On the other hand, the year 2008 will be surrounded by many challenges that will test the foundation of bilateral ties between China and the United States. The Taiwan question, with the elections of a "legislature" and regional leader, as well as the "referendum," means China and the United States have to confront provocations from the "Taiwan independence" movement. The U.S. presidential election will also bring uncertainties to the country's China policy and bilateral ties. Trade frictions will surely continue and vary as globalization deepens.