By Mick Krever, CNN
Are the U.S. and China headed for a “new great power relationship?”
That is what Xi Jinping, China’s new president has called for. He and U.S. President Barack Obama kicked off that vision last month, in an unusually informal meeting at the Sunnylands resort in California.
And in a rare and exclusive interview with Christiane Amanpour, Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai said that it’s “obvious” that the countries need each other.
“The United States is the most powerful country in the world,” Ambassador Cui said. “China is working very hard to modernize the country to develop its economy and improve the livelihood of its people. So it's very obvious that it's important for China to have stable and healthy relations with the United States.”
Cui is on the front lines of implementing the two presidents’ vision for a new relationship between China and the U.S.
And though the surroundings at the bucolic Sunnylands may been relaxing, the conversation about the challenges ahead almost certainly was not.
On top of that list of importance between the two countries is likely cyber security, with both countries trading allegations of widespread espionage.
The issue, or some version of it, was recently brought to the fore, when former U.S. intelligence officer Edward Snowden escaped from the Chinese “Special Administrative Region” of Hong Kong – that case, Cui said, is “none of our business.”
But the world of cyber is a much broader issue than one young American.
“I don't think finger-pointing would be helpful to either side,” Ambassador Cui said. “And technologically, the United States is much more advanced than China in information technology. So normally, I always believe it should be the weaker side to worry about the stronger side, not the other way around.”
A working group on cyber security that the two countries have set up, he said, is a good indication that the U.S. and China want to “work together” on the issue.
Washington and Beijing have seemed closer together on another issue of great importance to both governments: North Korea.
Long known as North Korea’s closest ally, China has recently seemed to distance itself, suggesting that denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula is as much a goal of the Chinese government as stability.
“I think that denuclearization and stability are part of the same thing,” Ambassador Cui told Amanpour.
With nuclear weapons on the peninsula, there is no guarantee of stability, he said, but military intervention to stop North Korea from weaponizing would be self-defeating.
“We are trying our best to bring everybody back to negotiations; so far, we have not succeeded,” Ambassador Cui said. “We hope that others could do the same.”