Well, the U.S.-China project of 2012 is something altogether different; indeed, it is unprecedented in the history of nations. The United States is attempting to work with a rising power to foster its rise as an active contributor to global security, stability and prosperity while also sustaining and securing American leadership in a changing world. And we are trying to do this without entering into unhealthy competition, rivalry, or conflict; without scoring points at each other’s expense and thereby souring the relationship; and without falling short on our responsibilities to the international community. We are, together, building a model in which we strike a stable and mutually acceptable balance between cooperation and competition. This is uncharted territory. And we have to get it right, because so much depends on it.

After three years of intensive engagement, and the successes and frustrations that have come with it, we are clear-eyed about the obstacles that still remain. There are, understandably so, difficult questions that we must answer, and misconceptions we must address. For example, here in the United States and elsewhere in the world, there are those who make the case – maybe it was made today – that a rising China signals bad news, that as China grows more prosperous and wields greater international power, our relationship will automatically turn adversarial, or the United States will inevitably experience decline as a result. Now meanwhile, some in China fear that the United States is determined to contain their rise and limit their progress to advance our interests at their expense.