Till not too long ago, there was little optimism that the deterioration in relations between China and the U.S. may be reversed. Now, nonetheless, some indicators of progress have emerged: Senior-level talks have taken place–and extra are being deliberate to handle key points. These don’t assure main modifications, however even minor ones are welcome at this level. 

Each nations would profit from dialogues on a number of important and infrequently extremely divisive points in coming months, constructing towards a doable assembly between U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese language President Xi Jinping on the APEC Summit to be held in San Francisco in mid-November.

Used properly, this sequence of talks will allow each nations higher to grasp each other’s primary targets, articulate what they see as main variations and important pursuits, and discover methods to construct mutual respect and belief.

Such talks are notably necessary now, following important personnel modifications amongst high-level officers in Beijing. These new Chinese language officers and their American counterparts want alternatives to get to know each other and develop rapport. The talks additionally come at a time when management of the U.S. Home of Representatives has modified fingers. China could possibly be knowledgeable by U.S. officers in regards to the new management in Congress and what they could imply for future China-US relations and negotiations.

Not all of the targets talked about above may be achieved rapidly. Many months–and even years–may be required to make main progress in some areas. In some circumstances, we might have to easily conform to disagree and discover a constructive framework for managing our variations. 

It’s helpful to acknowledge that the form of relationship we had for a number of a long time up to now is unlikely sooner or later. Relations are more likely to be significantly extra fraught and, on numerous issues, extra politically confrontational. On the flip aspect, the popularity of a brand new set of realities and alternatives may lay the premise for a sound, constructive, and sensible relationship going ahead.

The primary reckoning is that we can not set up our bilateral relations or handle the brand new international order primarily based on sustained tensions between our two nations–or by seeing this as a zero-sum contest. Nor can we do it by partaking in rhetorical challenges to, or criticism of, the legitimacy of the system of governance of 1 nation by the opposite. There are profound variations in historic cultures and political techniques that should be acknowledged and revered.

For future relations to be productive, there must be mutual respect for every nation’s tradition and system. And we should search affordable aims. For instance, for Washington, trying to gradual or impede China’s financial progress and improvement just isn’t a practical–or constructive–choice. China has the technical capabilities and human expertise to keep up important progress for a very long time to return. And the spectacular technological progress China has made ought to encourage the U.S. to focus extra of its energies by itself inner enhancements at residence–constructing out its personal Twenty first-century technical capabilities and strengthening schooling in any respect ranges within the fields of science, math, know-how, and engineering. 

Making an attempt to curb or deter the expansion of China’s financial relations with different nations is equally unrealistic and unconstructive. Most nations, together with U.S. allies, search constructive commerce and funding relations with China. For a lot of, China is, and can stay, their largest buying and selling associate. 

To handle key points extra deeply, an enhanced and extra common high-level dialogue on a number of points is vital. I had the privilege of being on the Nationwide Safety Council employees of Henry Kissinger within the early Nineteen Seventies, when the dialogue between China and the U.S. was simply starting. Early talks have been extra in regards to the broad aims of every nation than particulars. This led to a sequence of understandings on mutual aims over the subsequent a number of years. Our leaders didn’t got down to resolve all points from the beginning. The large areas of settlement set the stage for future steps towards larger normalization within the interval that adopted. 

I used to be, due to this fact, inspired that not too long ago President Joe Biden’s nationwide safety advisor, Jake Sullivan, met with Chinese language Communist Occasion Politburo Member and Director of the Workplace of the International Affairs Fee Wang Li, to handle a variety of bilateral and worldwide points. Most significantly, the 2 sides agreed “to keep up this necessary strategic channel of communication.” It is a wholesome step. 

The U.S. Secretary of State and China’s prime overseas coverage official must also undertake a sequence of standard conferences to higher perceive each other’s regional and geopolitical aims and handle their variations. Equally, conferences between the U.S. Treasury Secretary and China’s finance minister can result in understanding and cooperation on bilateral and international points, because it did within the 2008 monetary disaster when their cooperation was glorious and important to an answer. 

The 2 nations additionally should successfully handle commerce and funding relations, which have been sources of tensions between us for a number of years. Commerce Minister Wang Wentao will quickly be assembly with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and U.S. Commerce Consultant Katherine Tai.

These conferences aren’t more likely to produce any fast options–however they’re a step in the best path. A significant problem is {that a} rising variety of commerce and funding points are inextricably linked to safety points. Each side need to defend their superior applied sciences, particularly people who may have army makes use of, and keep away from vulnerability to doable strategic or political leverage by the opposite. 

Moreover, the 2 nations would do properly to agree on a communication channel and usually scheduled conferences between prime army leaders on either side as a way to perceive every nation’s strategic aims and avert battle and miscalculations.

In a variety of non-strategic areas, each economies can acquire enormously from mutual and truthful commerce and funding. This will solely occur if home insurance policies, sanctions, and guidelines in every nation aren’t utilized in a means that’s discriminatory to the opposite. Mutual understandings are obligatory to perform this. And since quite a few different nations have an curiosity within the evolving international financial order, China and the U.S. have an curiosity in broadening their participation in lots of points of those discussions.

There are lots of different areas, together with local weather change and cooperation on medical analysis and illness prevention, the place sustained talks amongst scientists and researchers can produce monumental advantages. Appreciable progress has already been in these areas to the good thing about each nations.

Lastly, summits between heads of state are vitally necessary. November’s APEC (Asia-Pacific Financial Cooperation) Summit in San Francisco is an optimum alternative for the subsequent assembly between our presidents. We should always welcome President Xi to the U.S. for this necessary assembly of Pacific Leaders and a possibility to defuse tensions. 

Authorities officers work greatest when dealing with deadlines, and now can be a very good one to mobilize key businesses and personnel on either side of the Pacific to organize a constructive agenda and constructive outcomes. 

The purpose wouldn’t be to cowl each problem or each element. It might be to debate the broad targets of every nation, determine just a few key initiatives with potential for progress and agree on methods of constructing a mutually useful and steady relationship sooner or later.  It may be a giant step towards a extra constructive relationship for each nations and the world.

Robert Hormats is a former Below Secretary of State for Financial, Progress, Vitality, and the Setting, and the creator of The Value of Liberty: Paying for America’s Wars.

The opinions expressed in Fortune.com commentary items are solely the views of their authors and don’t essentially replicate the opinions and beliefs of Fortune.

Extra must-read commentary revealed by Fortune: