Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The Chinese ambassador schools the U.S.

By Andrew Kwon Best Defense diplomatic bureau Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai, speaking recently at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, took as his lesson the need to respect others and act responsibly. That’s a pretty powerful message to convey, given that the man at the lectern was the ambassador of the very state ...

Wikimedia
Wikimedia
Wikimedia

By Andrew Kwon
Best Defense diplomatic bureau

Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai, speaking recently at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, took as his lesson the need to respect others and act responsibly.

That's a pretty powerful message to convey, given that the man at the lectern was the ambassador of the very state the United States has long criticized for not being a responsible power. Responsibility, the ambassador said, is "being prudent and cautious" in regards to interests, "acting positively and constructively" when confronting and managing differences and challenges, and "taking the long-term view" when calculating gains.

By Andrew Kwon
Best Defense diplomatic bureau

Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai, speaking recently at Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, took as his lesson the need to respect others and act responsibly.

That’s a pretty powerful message to convey, given that the man at the lectern was the ambassador of the very state the United States has long criticized for not being a responsible power. Responsibility, the ambassador said, is “being prudent and cautious” in regards to interests, “acting positively and constructively” when confronting and managing differences and challenges, and “taking the long-term view” when calculating gains.

In addition, the talk provided the platform for unveiling China’s proposed linchpin for the “new great power relationship“: mutual respect. The ambassador stressed that, to understand China and its policies it requires “a close look at its history and culture.” He later added, “To respect [each other’s] differences, is to show respect to history … to appreciate why there are these differences will lay the foundation for constructive and productive relations.” Overall, if the United States seeks to work with China, it asks to be accepted, and respected, as it is.

It was an interesting time for such a lecture, given the current shutdown of the federal government.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.