Sino-U.S. joint statement takes ties into positive era: American scholar

16:50, November 18, 2009      

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A joint statement issued after the meeting between Chinese President Hu Jintao and U.S President Barack Obama may help take Sino-U.S. relations into a "totally new and positive era," a leading expert on China said Tuesday.

"The joint statement released on Nov. 17 is an extremely positive document -- filled with countless examples of tangible Sino-American cooperation on a large range of bilateral, regional, and global issues," David Shambaugh, a George Washington University professor and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, said in a written interview with Xinhua.

Shambaugh, a senior visiting scholar at the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, spoke after Hu and Obama wrapped up their talks Tuesday.

The two presidents discussed a wide range of bilateral and global issues and held a joint press conference after their meeting. The two countries issued a joint statement after the meeting.

"In the document and the two presidents' joint press statements, there was a very positive emphasis placed on the overall goal of creating a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship," Shambaugh said.

The most significant outcome of the meeting, Shambaugh said, lies in the details of the joint statement, as well as in the ability of both countries to frame their relationship in global terms.

"If all of the agreements and goals identified in the joint statement are actually implemented, it will take Sino-U.S. relations into a totally new and positive era," Shambaugh said.

He believed the joint statement indicated that China is moving in a direction to play a greater role in international relations.

Shambaugh described the atmosphere of the discussions as "mature, professional, and candid."

"This reflects the 30 years of hard work in building the relationship, as well as the growing strategic trust between the two sides," he said.

The professor said that both the U.S. and China must be very pleased with the joint statement.

"The American side will place great stock in this document and will be looking to the Chinese side for very specific actions on a wide range of identified issues," he said.

He said he would imagine that China must also be pleased by the agreements, and with what Obama said about the U.S. not seeking to contain China.

The Chinese, Shambaugh said, also must be pleased with Obama's welcoming of China's rise and showing respect for its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Shambaugh, who closely followed Obama's four-day trip to China, said the agreements reached and the new stage of the China-U.S. relationship will bring added stability and security to the Asia-Pacific and the world at large.

"Asia, indeed the world, cannot be stable and secure if Sino-American relations are not stable and secure," he said.

Shambaugh said the China policies of the Bush and Obama administrations are very similar in philosophy and practical policies.

The only two differences, he said, were that the Obama administration seeks a truly global partnership with China and gives human rights a "slightly higher dimension" on its policy agenda.

"The Bush administration did many things right in its China policy -- so the Obama administration just needs to build on it and take the relationship to the next level," the professor said.

Shambaugh said he was "greatly heartened" by the content of the joint statement because it indicated that the Chinese leadership is reaching for a new role in the world and a new level in U.S.-China relations.

"The United States has reached out its hand to accept China as a global power and partner, and Beijing has grasped the American hand," he said. "This is very positive and encouraging."

Shambaugh pointed out that China and the U.S. still have differences on many issues, "but the overall tone and substance of the relationship has been qualitatively enhanced by President Obama's visit."

Obama arrived in Shanghai on Sunday for a four-day state visit to China. He met with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday.

Obama is the first U.S. president to pay a state visit to China during his first year in office. China is the third leg of the president's ongoing Asia trip.

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