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China visit a test to Kerry's 'gentle' side

(Global Times)

09:37, April 13, 2013

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R) shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Beijing, capital of China, April 13, 2013. (Xinhua/Ding Lin)

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US Secretary of State John Kerry is visiting China today. The media has been talking for a while about the new US top diplomat's moderate style and familiarity with the thrust and parry of diplomacy. The new US diplomatic team will be put to the test during its contact with the new Chinese leadership.

The Korean Peninsula crisis will be on the table during Kerry's meeting with Chinese leaders. But challenges in Sino-US relations pose more severe questions that will further impact Asia-Pacific geopolitics.

China-US trade and economic cooperation have kept growing in the past few years but so has the atmosphere of distrust and defensiveness. In China, many believe the Sino-US relations can neither be too bad nor too good. It may be so in the US as well.

For the Chinese people, the hard line of former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been unforgettable. Even if the "gentler" Kerry proves to take a truly softer tack, he as an individual may not necessarily make the US less guarded with China.

The definition of Sino-US diplomacy has become blurrier and more confusing. In the past we believed that it meant the leaders of both countries visited each other, talking about trade or military affairs. Now many have realized that "Sino-US diplomacy" has also been underlying in the frictions in the South China Sea and the Diaoyu Islands, as well as the Korean Peninsula. The role the US has been playing in these areas make China uneasy.

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