Trade, climate top US-China agenda

16:21, October 09, 2009      

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The White House announced on Thursday that President Barack Obama's first trip to Asia as president will begin in Japan and take him to Singapore, China and the Republic of Korea.

But the US president will not visit Indonesia, his home for four years when he was a child.

Obama will be in Beijing and Shanghai between Nov 15 and 18.

During the China leg, President Hu Jintao will likely urge his US counterpart to abandon trade protectionism, said Chinese experts yesterday. Obama is expected to push China to reach a bilateral climate change agreement.

Obama's four-country Asian tour will include the third round of talks between the Chinese and US presidents. The pair met in London in April and in New York in September.

In the wake of an increasing number of anti-dumping cases against China in the US, "anti-protectionism is a priority that Hu would like to talk about with Obama," said Yuan Peng, head of the institute of US studies affiliated to China Institute of Contemporary International Relations.

During his recent meeting with Obama in New York, Hu warned the US that "similar cases should not happen again", referring to Obama's approval of a 35 percent tax on Chinese tire exports to the US.

The US is understood to be seeking other punitive measures against China's exports.

"Beijing will voice clearly its concerns at this time," said Yuan, adding that Washington and Beijing will probably also address such topics as nuclear nonproliferation, regional security and the global financial crisis.

Zhou Qi, a senior US expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said the US will continue to prod China toward a bilateral agreement on climate change.

"The US will push China to set a carbon-emissions cap, but it's hard for the Chinese government to do so as a developing country," Zhou said.

But Zhou predicted China and the US may reach a consensus on a more ambitious carbon emission schedule and cooperation mechanism with the international community.

"That will help Obama persuade politicians and opposition parties in the US to announce even more radical emission-cut plans," said Zhou. "The US is hoping for a concrete emission-cut goal from China."

"At this historic juncture, the world is expecting China and the US to take the lead," said Zhou, adding that the international community will reach a deal after the world's two biggest greenhouse emitting nations have forged an agreement of their own.

She said China can clearly identify its national interests in any agreement.

Pang Zhongying, a professor with Renmin University of China, expects climate change will top the agenda when Obama meets Hu.

"So, during the coming weeks, their colleagues should work around the clock to iron out any differences. Then, I think, the two sides will be able to announce a consensus on climate change," said Pang.

He said the scheduled four-country Asia tour in November will showcase Obama's Asian policy after months of consideration since he took power.

Pang said Obama does not want too much focus placed on the fact that he lived in Indonesia as a child, so skipping that country makes sense.

Obama and his mother moved from Hawaii to Jakarta, Indonesia, when he was 6. They returned to the US when he was 10.

Obama's tour kicks off in Japan on Nov 12 and 13, where he will meet twice with new Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama. The White House said the visit with "this key ally" will cover economic, security and other issues.

After Tokyo, Obama will fly to Singapore to attend the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting, between Nov 13 and 15.

Following Singapore, Obama will travel to China, where he will visit both Beijing and Shanghai between Nov 15 and 18.

Obama's final stop will be in the Republic of Korea on Nov 18-19 where he will meet President Lee Myung-bak for the third time. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea will be among items on the agenda, said the White House.

Source:China Daily

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