Top-level contacts, diplomatic transparency improve China-US relations

The evolving nature of China-US diplomacy has been highlighted by the recent meeting between Chinese president Hu Jintao and his US counterpart George W. Bush in New York on the sideline of the United Nations 60th anniversary summit.

The two presidents agreed during their meeting on Tuesday to enhance mutual trust and cooperation and make a concerted effort to develop constructive and cooperative bilateral relations.

Hu said a healthily and steadily developing China-US relationship serves the interests of both peoples and conducive to peace, stability and development in the world at large, and should be treasured by both countries.

Just before the meeting between the two presidents, China's No. 2 leader Wu Bangguo, chairman of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, also stayed at New York for the Second World Conference for Parliamentary Speakers from September 7 to 9.

"Dazzling high-level contacts are concrete embodiment of the current increasing diplomatic transparency between the two sides", Liu Jiangyong, a professor on international studies of China's prestigious Tsinghua University, said in Beijing Thursday.

In July, four important members of the Bush administration visited China successively, including US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Trade Representative Rob Portman, Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez and Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns.

The constant high-level visits between China and the United States provide a "transparent and effective" channel for the two sides to correctly interpret each other's positions, increase mutual trust and prevent misunderstanding, Liu said.

"Top level contacts also pave the way for the healthy and stable development of relations between the world's largest developing country and most influential developed country," he said.

Following four US top officials' China trips, US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick came to China in August and co-chaired a first ever China-US strategic dialogue in Beijing with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo.

In a "candid and in-depth manner," both sides discussed issues of common concern and agreed the dialogue was constructive and helpful in improving mutual understanding, and reiterated that the long-term, healthy and stable development of China-US relations is in the interests of both nations and peoples.

The dialogue came as a result of the consensus reached between Chinese President Hu Jintao and US President Bush during the APEC Summit in Chile last year.

Experts say the two countries have many issues to discuss, such as diplomacy, economy, security, international affairs, and the particularly thorny Taiwan issue.

"Strategic dialogue is an important symbol of the increasing diplomatic transparency between China and the United States," Liu Jiangyong said, adding it will help eliminate strategic misjudgment and push forward bilateral relations in a healthy, mature and mutually-beneficial manner.

Besides direct high-level visits, China and the United States also keep in touch with each other by "hot lines" between top leaders and foreign ministers from both sides.

When an emergency occurs or an urgent concern arises, Chinese and US leaders or senior officials should be capable of direct conversation.

Hu Jintao and President Bush have had ten telephone conversations since Hu became Chinese President in March 2003. Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing has talked over the phone with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice nine times since early this year.

From January 31 to March 8 this year, Li and Rice had five conversations, in which they discussed, among other things, the Taiwan and Korean Peninsula nuclear issues.

Li reportedly once said he and US former Secretary of State Colin Powell got along well and often called each other at night. Sometimes they would wake each other up because of the time difference.

"Once I woke up Powell, and his two dogs also woke up, and the dog's noise affected our telephone discussion. Later I heard his wife say, 'Hurry up and close the door,' and then the quality of the conversation was better," Li said, noting that he should thank Powell's wife for providing convenience to their late night calls.

China and the United States had never enjoyed such close links before, according to experts.

The direct high-level contacts and frequent phone conversations show that China and the United States enjoy "ideal conditions in their diplomatic transparency in the level of top leaders and governments," said Fu Mengzi, a professor with the Chinese Academy of Contemporary International Relations.

Bilateral military intercourse has also help create mutual understanding and transparency between China and the United States.

Commander of US Pacific Command William Fallon said during his China visit this month that he and Chinese senior military leaders agreed in their meetings to enhance military contact and dialogue to counter challenges and safeguard regional security and stability.

"The frequent high-level visits and deepening of bilateral ties not only bring concrete benefits to both sides, but also benefit regional peace and stability," Fallon said.

Local experts believe the dense web of China-US high-level contacts, together with constant phone conversations and non-governmental exchanges, will help reduce friction and misunderstanding, increase transparency and lead to healthy China-US relations.

Source: Xinhua

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