China, US dialogue seeks solutions to major issues

08:17, May 24, 2010      

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High-ranking Chinese and US officials sit together on Monday to try and find solutions to issues ranging from trade and global economic recovery to regional tensions at the two-day China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Analysts said they believe the high-profile meeting will set the tone for bilateral relations.

US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner arrived in Beijing Sunday leading "one of the largest groups of cabinet and sub-cabinet officials" comprising about 200 officials, including "virtually all elements of the US government", said Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell.

They expect the meeting to be part of the effort to help US President Barack Obama deliver on his pledge to double exports within five years and create 2 million jobs.

Vice-Premier Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo will join Clinton and Geithner as co-chairs of the meeting.

On the eve of the top-level talks, China stressed the risks both economies face from Europe's debt woes, while Washington pressed Beijing to give foreign companies "fair access".

In comments published on Sunday, Finance Minister Xie Xuren said cooperation with Washington was all the more important in the face of the European debt crisis.

"At present, risks from European sovereign debt have increased factors of instability in the course of the global economic recovery," Xie wrote in the Washington Post and on the ministry's website.

He said that China and the United States must "each protect macro-economic stability and strengthen macro-economic policy coordination to consolidate the trend toward global economic recovery".

Speaking in Shanghai on Sunday before leaving for Beijing, Clinton stressed the importance of US economic concerns in relations with China.

"In the coming days, officials at the highest levels of our two governments will be discussing issues of economic balance and competition," she said in a speech at a vast hangar at Shanghai airport.

"Transparency in rule making and standard setting, non-discrimination, fair access to sales to private sector and government purchasers alike, the strong enforcement of intellectual property rights are all vitally important in the 21st century global economy," Clinton told the audience of US and Chinese business executives.

She also stressed the important role China plays in international issues.

"Virtually every major challenge that we face in the world requires China and the United States to work together," she told staff at the US Consulate General in Shanghai.

Clinton squeezed time out of her busy schedule on public diplomacy on Saturday, passing out teddy bears to Chinese children as she toured the Shanghai World Expo.

US officials have said the country is relaxing export controls by reviewing the entire system, and said China's growth was increasingly being fuelled by more consumer spending at home, rather than relying on exports. Washington wants to see that trend continue and be reinforced, they said.

Minister of Commerce Chen Deming said on Sunday that China will continue with opening up and will actively raise imports, adding the two nations have huge business potential in the hi-tech sector.

He told visiting US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke on Sunday that Washington's export controls hurt the economic and trade balance and has caused US enterprises to lose in bilateral trade. China expects the US to take concrete measures to loosen restrictions as soon as possible.

Locke said "the US is comprehensively reviewing the export control systems and will remove unnecessary restrictions".

"The US has noticed the progress the Chinese government has made on the IPR issue, and hopes to strengthen coordination with China on the issue," he said.

The two-day dialogue, the second of its kind since the Obama administration took office in early 2009, comes at a time when the two sides are trying to get ties back on track after relations turned sour because of the US arms sale to Taiwan and Obama meeting the Dalai Lama earlier this year.

Regional issues such as escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the Iran nuclear issue, and the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan are also a priority in the dialogue.

The first round of the dialogue was held in Washington in July last year.

Analysts said the complexity of the dialogue reflects how much China and the United States depend on each other on both the domestic and the world stages despite their differences.

Sino-US ties could be described as "cautious interdependence", with each side realizing that "if either side ever took aggressive action against the other, it would seriously undermine its own economic position," Shaun Breslin, professor of politics and international studies at Britain's Warwick University, told Xinhua.

"Behind the rhetoric, both sides realized how each needed the other and they both needed stability in the international order," Breslin said.

Professor David Shambaugh, non-resident senior fellow in the Foreign Policy Studies Program at the Brookings Institution in Washington, said last week that the US is "going to continue interacting (with China) on increasing levels, and start having a kind of real strategic dialogue between equals".

Shi Yinhong, an expert on American studies at Beijing-based Renmin University, called the meeting "a great chance to cement relations, which will also impact development of future ties".

Jonathan Holslag, researcher at the Brussels Institute of Contemporary China Studies, said questions remain on how Washington treats Beijing in the interaction.

"Will the United States and, especially the American society, accept a partnership among equals with a country that has a fundamentally different political system?"

Rear Admiral Yang Yi, former head of strategic studies at the People's Liberation Army's National Defense University, said that only when US shrugs off its Cold War mentality can there be a steady bilateral relationship.

Ma Liyao, Xinhua, AP and Reuters contributed to this story.

Source:China Daily


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