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US efforts to treat China as an enemy and decouple it from the global economy will damage the United States' international role and reputation, and undermine the economic interests of all nations, a group opposed to the US administration's approach said in an open letter to President Donald Trump and members of the Congress, which was published on Wednesday.
The letter by 100 leading members of US scholarly, foreign policy, military and business community leaders appeared in The Washington Post several days after Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping met on the sidelines of the G20 Leaders Summit in Japan on Saturday.
It said the size and diversity of its signatures indicated "there is no single Washington consensus endorsing an overall adversarial stance toward China, as some believe exists".
Its writers, including Stapleton Roy, a distinguished scholar at the Wilson Center and a former US ambassador to China, and Ezra Vogel, a professor emeritus at Harvard University, said they were "deeply concerned" about the growing deterioration in US relations with China, which they believe does not serve American or global interests.
They presented what they believe would be "the best American response" or "a wiser policy" to the problems in the US approach to challenges from China. They said the current approach to China is "fundamentally counterproductive".
The letter came at a time when there is a ramping up of narrative in Washington and on Capitol Hill, clamoring for "strategic rivalry" with China and for the "decoupling" of the two countries and even a "new Cold War".
Drawing their experience and expertise in professional careers focused on Asia, these largely China experts said in the letter that they do not believe Beijing is an economic enemy or an existential national security threat that must be confronted in every sphere, and Washington cannot significantly slow Beijing's rise without damaging itself.
They also said the fear that China will replace the US as the global leader is exaggerated, adding that it is not clear that Beijing itself sees this goal as necessary or feasible.
The letter claimed Beijing is "seeking to weaken" the Western role within the global order, but it is not seeking to overturn vital economic and other components of that order from which China itself has benefited for decades.
"Indeed, China's engagement in the international system is essential to the system's survival and to effective action on common problems, such as climate change," it said.
It proposed that the United States should encourage Chinese participation in new or modified global regimes in which rising powers have a greater voice. "A zero-sum approach to China's role would only encourage Beijing to either disengage from the system or sponsor a divided global order that would be damaging to Western interests," it said.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, in commenting on a draft of the open letter that was reported by the media a few days ago, said Beijing commended "the rational voice" expressed in the letter.
The most important consensus reached during the meeting between Xi and Trump in Japan is to advance China-US relations featuring coordination, cooperation and stability, Geng said on Monday.
He said China and the US should avoid "the pitfall of conflict and confrontation" and seek mutually reinforced and shared development.
One of the authors of the open letter, Michael D. Swaine, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said on Twitter on Wednesday, "100 signatures of leading former USG officials, policy analysts, scholars, and some (but not enuf) business n military people. To me, this is proof positive that there is no consensus behind the extreme policy stances toward CN now evident in DC. PLS RT!"
As it turned out, the letter has been re-tweeted by many Twitter users. John Furlan, who identifies himself as an ex-fund manager and ex-tech stock analyst, tweeted: "Open letter much-needed response to toxic discussion about China."