US-China bridge repairs begin

08:17, March 03, 2010      

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US Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg,senior director for Asian affairs at the US National Security Council, will be in Beijing from Tuesday to Thursday to exchange opinions with the Chinese side. (Xinhua Photo)

High-level US diplomats arrived in Beijing Tuesday in a bid to defuse bilateral tensions stoked by US arms sales to Taiwan and a White House visit by the Dalai Lama, actions seen to have damaged China''s "core interests."

Fence-mending and talks on international efforts to dismantle North Korea''s nuclear facilities and proposed tougher sanctions over Iranian atomic ambitions were to top the agenda of visiting US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, who is accompanied by Jeffrey Bader, US President Barack Obama''s top Asia adviser on the National Security Council, observers said.

The US embassy in Beijing did not announce any details of the three-day trip by Steinberg, the highest-ranking US official to visit China since recent spats between the two countries that include a flurry of trade disputes.

An insider said the visit is meant to set the agenda for a series of vital events between the two countries, including a nuclear summit in Washington in April and the next round of China-US strategic and economic dialogue.

"We''ve gone through a bit of a bumpy path here and I think there''s an interest, both within the United States and China, to get back to business as usual as quickly as possible," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters Monday in Washington.

Crowley said the visit offered an opportunity to "refocus on the future" of bilateral relations.

"We were not to blame for the current difficult situation," China''s foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said yesterday, urging Washington to "take Beijing''s interests and concerns seriously" and "properly handle sensitive issues."

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Saturday during a live chat with Internet users that Sino-US "trade should be balanced and sustainable," and that China does not want 2010 to be a year of conflict for trade and economic relations with the US.

Wu Xinbo, an American Studies professor at Fudan University, said China has weighed in a lot to shape Sino-US relations. "The US will go nowhere if it doesn''t take China''s stance into consideration," he said, adding that both nations should continue to cooperate and to compete in spite of frictions.

Sun Zhe, director of the China-US Relations Center at Tsinghua University, said US officials should have come earlier to provide an explanation for Washington''s recent actions.

"A lack of a communication mechanism is even worse than the eruption of a crisis in ties. US officials should listen attentively to their Chinese counterparts," he said.

Sun added that bilateral relations still followed a traditional pattern he described as "confrontation and response," with the US taking the initiative.

"Reactions by China have been too simple and lacking variety. China should build a consistent and flexible policy to force the US to pay attention on significant issues," Sun said.

Source:Global Times – Agencies
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