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Interview: China-U.S. cooperation makes a better world: John Thornton
2015/09/22

BEIJING, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming U.S. visit is a major event for both countries, and the world will be better off if they cooperate, according to Brookings Institution co-chair John Thornton.

"The China-U.S. relationship will deepen over time and must deepen over time," said Thornton, former president of U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs, in an interview with Xinhua on Sunday.

Xi's first state visit to the United States since he took office in 2013 will deepen and enrich bilateral ties in culture, education, economics and strategy, he said.

"The biggest single change in the world over the last 30 years is that China has been rising. That will continue to be the case," said the 61-year-old leader of the Washington-based think tank.

According to him, China has been and will continue on a course of opening up and reform. Its economy is growing, and the quality of growth is improving. The country is becoming more interdependent and interrelated to the world economy and vice versa.

Thornton told Xinhua that the three trends will continue in the future and they will serve as fundamental pillars of China-U.S. cooperation.

"Opportunities are unlimited," he said, adding that the two countries can achieve big things together in climate change, anti-terrorism, fighting disease, water scarcity, and other areas.

"If the two most powerful countries address a big problem together, the likelihood of solving the problem goes up significantly," he said.

Former U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers said he can imagine a 21st century in which both China and the United States do well, or one in which neither does well, but he can't imagine that one will do well and the other will not.

Thornton said he likes and agrees with the remarks by Summers.

He expects the announcement of joint measures to cope with global climate change, progress in bilateral investment treaty negotiations and signing of major deals between companies during Xi's visit.

When meeting with a room of U.S. business leaders and former senior officials last week, Xi said China is committed to working with the United States to build a new type of major power relations.

"Personally, I find this idea very appealing," said Thornton, who was among the audience, adding that, historically, when one power rises, conflicts have usually increased.

Thornton said it is good that Xi said China is attempting to avoid that trap and trying to create a new way of doing business.

Xi said he is hopeful that over time there will be more macroeconomic coordination between the two countries.

"It makes great sense to me," said Thornton, adding that mutual understanding and trust take time and knowledge in such a dramatically changing world.

Despite common interests, China and the U.S. also have differences, which have to be managed carefully, he said, adding that the two presidents will probably discuss some of them when they meet later this week.

"The discussion itself will be an example of managing the differences, and will help foster a better understanding and diminish a lack of communication," said Thornton.

Both sides have agreed that building a new type of major power relations is an important target and reassuring to other countries as it can create circumstances for the rest of the world to prosper, said Thornton.

Thornton began teaching at Tsinghua University in Beijing in 2003, and now he travels regularly between the two countries to share ideas and knowledge with his Chinese students.

"To me, the most important thing happening in the world, in my lifetime, is the rise of China. I only have one life and I want to dedicate it to something important," said Thornton.

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