China-U.S. S&ED talks: a chance to deepen trust, cooperation

08:47, May 09, 2011      

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by Matthew Rusling, Yan Feng

Next week, China and the United States will be in their third round of Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED), a mechanism created in 2009 to manage bilateral relationship and promote communication between the two countries.

The dialogue, slated for Monday and Tuesday in Washington, will be co-chaired by Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo, and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Treasury Timothy Geithner -- as special representatives of Chinese President Hu Jintao and U.S. President Barack Obama respectively.

While no major breakthroughs are expected from this coming round, the dialogue can well serve, as a whole, as a forum to increase mutual trust and deepen cooperation especially in economy and trade, and to exchange views on strategic and long-lasting issues that have a bearing on the development of China-U.S. relations, as well as on international and regional issues of common interest.

ENHANCING MUTUAL TRUST

"The way you build trust is to establish patterns of commutations where one side can indicate how they will behave on particular issues," said former U.S. Ambassador to China Stapleton Roy in a recent interview with Xinhua.

"If they actually behave that way, that enhances mutual trust. Where mutual trust is damaged is where one side has an expectation that the other side failed to live up to, and then the other side believes they've been misled," he said.

Key to building trust is having bilateral ties that promote frank, open and honest communication that helps convince each party to understand how the other is likely to behave, said Roy, who is now director of the Kissinger Institute for Chinese-U.S. Studies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

"If the trust is cooperative, all the better. But even if you have differences with the other side, if you are able to understand how those differences will be managed, the differences do not have to contribute to a lack of trust," he said. "And I think this pattern of leadership exchanges now should make that easier."

Briefing reporters on the S&ED in Washington on Thursday, Kurt Campbell, U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, also spoke highly of the role of the dialogue mechanism in handling Washington's relations with Beijing.

"In my respects, it is our most important venue, our mechanism, if you will, for managing this complex relationship between the United States and China," Campbell said.


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