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U.S., China strategic talks show commitment to broaden dialogue: expert


15:26, July 13, 2013

WASHINGTON, July 12 (Xinhua) -- The just concluded fifth round of annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) between the United States and China have shown a commitment from both sides to broaden the dialogue, a U.S. expert said Friday.

Besides real progress in areas such as investment and climate change, the U.S. and Chinese sides have shown commitment to " sustain and to broaden what goes on within these dialogues," Jonathan Pollack, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings Institution, told Xinhua in an interview.

He stressed the importance of the commitment at the senior level, saying that "because without a commitment in both leaderships to sustain these processes, momentum and progress will stall very quickly."

Pollack said meetings on the economic track saw more tangible results, while the strategic security talks were more vague in its outcome.

However, new issues or issues previously not extensively discussed are now being raised at the strategic track, such as cyber security, situation on the Korean Peninsula, as well as questions related to U.S. ballistic missile defense policy, he said.

"The good news is these meetings not only were held, but I think there were some very candid discussions on these topics," said Pollack, adding the two sides have to find a way to sustain these process in different working group endeavors.

As more and more issues are being included in the talks, disagreements arise inevitably.

Pollack said the solution to the problem was well captured by Vice Premier Wang Yang, who co-chaired the dialogue for the Chinese side, in a Thursday dinner speech.

"He didn't go to great detail about the discussions, but he was acknowledging openly that the two countries have different conceptions often, and we shouldn't be afraid to air those differences," said Pollack.

Pollack said he doesn't think any of these issues "arrive in a take it or leave it basis," but "the question is whether this form can provide the basis for the maturation in the willingness of both sides to air their differences, see where the critical disputes may be, and to see whether or not progress can be made."

One of the more concrete results of the meetings is an agreement to work more closely on confronting climate change.

There is a "real commitment in (the) United States government to try to find some avenues for much more serious discussion and negotiation" with the Chinese side, as both countries have "a huge shared stake" in the area, Pollack said.

He said he was interested in whether the two countries could develop a serious pilot project to deal with carbon sequestration.

The success of such an endeavor could signify the abilities of the two sides to cooperate, while having a real impact on technological terms to "deal meaningfully with the challenge that climate change and our dependence on the carbon based economy represents," he said.

During the dialogue, the two sides held meetings on energy security and climate change, identifying key areas for future cooperation. They also expanded their EcoPartnership program with the signing of six new partnerships to reduce greenhouse gases emissions and improve energy efficiency as well as create jobs.

As the two sides broaden discussions on the occasion of S&ED, the agenda could become overcrowded, Pollack cautioned.

"On the one hand you could say it underscores the unbelievable complexity of the U.S.-China relationship," but "what you do not want is for the discussions of the meeting to become so crowded that the bigger picture gets lost," he said.

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