Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

China can’t halt history: Clinton [The Age/AFP]

US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue 2011: There seems little the U.S. can do to make China fidgety about its human rights record aymore – ‘deplorable’ and ‘fool’s errand’ have been used, and China’s response seems to be standard these days – Beijing will move at its own speed.

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China can’t halt history: Clinton
Simon Mann, Washington
Source – The Age, published May 12, 2011

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as China’s Vice Premier Wang Qishan looks on during closing remarks during the 2011 US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue. Photo: MANDEL NGAN

HILLARY Clinton has described China’s human rights record as ”deplorable” and accused its leadership of engaging in a ”fool’s errand” in trying to thwart the march of history.

The US Secretary of State, in a long interview with Atlantic magazine, touched on whether Beijing feared that pro-democracy protests sweeping the Middle East could reach Tiananmen Square.

”They’re worried,” she said. ”They’re trying to stop history, which is a fool’s errand. They cannot do it, but they’re going to hold off as long as possible.”

Her comments were published as the US and China ended their at times ”testy” talks on a range of economic and strategic initiatives, during which the world’s two biggest economies pledged new co-operation on trade and monetary matters.

Mrs Clinton praised the outcome of the talks. ”We discussed everything, whether it was something that was sensitive to us or sensitive to them, all these difficult issues including human rights,” she said. Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: AFP, Beijing Consensus, Censorship, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Culture, Democracy, Domestic Growth, Human Rights, Influence, International Relations, Jasmine Revolution, Mapping Feelings, Media, Politics, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Social, Soft Power, Strategic Economic Dialogue, Strategy, The Age, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities, U.S.

US, China close in on common ground [The Age]

US, China close in on common ground
CHRISTOPHE SCHMIDT, BEIJING
Source – The Age, published May 26, 2010

The two sides at the opening ceremony of the Strategic Economic Dialogue in Beijing. Photo: Getty Images

THE United States and China wrapped up strategic talks yesterday aimed at smoothing out economic differences as Washington pressed Beijing to get tough on North Korea over the sinking of a South Korean warship.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner met senior Chinese officials for the second day of the annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

President Barack Obama said earlier the meetings would deepen ties between the two countries as they work towards economic growth and preventing the spread of nuclear weapons. Washington had sent a record 200-strong delegation, including several cabinet-level representatives and other high-ranking officials.

The talks let the two sides air their differences on issues ranging from trade and the value of the yuan to internet freedom and Taiwan. Both sides said they had got off to a good start, but they appeared apart on several fronts.

In remarks before the formal talks, the Chinese President, Hu Jintao, said Beijing would reform its exchange rate regime, but at its own pace. The US and Europe have been pushing China for months to allow the yuan to rise.

The Chinese delegation, meanwhile, pressed Washington to lift restrictions on high-tech exports to China.

Mrs Clinton is pressing Beijing to back further sanctions on North Korea over the sinking of the Cheonan on March 26, killing 46 sailors. International investigators have blamed Pyongyang.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Charm Offensive, Chinese Model, Economics, Finance, Influence, International Relations, Politics, Soft Power, Strategic Economic Dialogue, The Age

Clinton and Geithner Face Hurdles in China Talks [New York Times]

The Chinese really only have one thing in mind for this period of their development – economic strength comes first and above all else. The sooner the world understands this simple fact, the easier it will be for them to get into the minds of the Chinese. Power and global leadership is the afterthought of the consequence of economic might, for now. Quite fundamentally, China just want economic strength – that is their central focus. It is a focus tinted however, on the lasting victimhood complex of having been bullied for Europe and the US (both in the mainland and toward the overseas Chinese) for the 19th and 20th centuries. Quite simply – China is saying – ‘Stop telling us what to do.’

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Clinton and Geithner Face Hurdles in China Talks
By Mark Landler
Source – New York Times, published May 24, 2010

BEIJING — China and the United States opened three days of high-level meetings here on Monday meant to broaden and deepen the ties between the world’s largest developed and developing economies.

But the opening session instead laid bare a recurring theme between Beijing and Washington: the United States came with a long wish list for China on both economic and security issues, while China mostly wants to be left alone to pursue policies that are turning it into an economic superpower.

President Hu Jintao, welcoming the 200-strong American delegation in the Great Hall of the People, praised the “mutually beneficial and win-win cooperation” between the United States and China. Such coordination, he said, had helped speed the recovery from the 2008 financial crisis.

On the crucial issue of China revaluing its currency — something the Obama administration had pushed for — Mr. Hu repeated China’s past promises to make its effectively fixed exchange rate respond more to the market, but the fact that the country’s top leader mentioned reform at all suggested it is on the leadership’s agenda.

Still, Mr. Hu also repeated that Beijing would move “under the principle of independent decision-making, controllability, and gradual progress.” Translation: China alone will determine the timing of any such move.

Economists said the deepening debt crisis in Greece, which came up immediately in the discussions on Monday, would make Beijing more reluctant to allow its currency to appreciate in value in the immediate future.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner did not mention China’s currency in his opening remarks, though he did allude to it in subsequent sessions. The administration has decided not to prod Beijing at this meeting, officials said, concluding that it would resist outside pressure.

The United States is hitting similar hurdles on security issues. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pressed China to support measures against North Korea following the strong evidence that it torpedoed a South Korean warship in March. But China has been skeptical of North Korea’s role and is reluctant to punish the North, with which it has close ties.

And while China agreed to a watered-down United Nations resolution on Iran’s nuclear program, it has not signed off on amendments against specific Iranian citizens and companies. With big planned investments in Iran’s oil and gas industry, China may well be in business with some of them.

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese Model, Culture, Economics, International Relations, New York Times, Politics, Soft Power, Strategic Economic Dialogue, Strategy

Face facts, Clinton tells China [The Age]

Face facts, Clinton tells China
MATTHEW LEE, SHANGHAI
Source – The Age, published May 23, 2010

FACING an uphill diplomatic struggle to win China’s support for penalising its ally North Korea over the sinking of a South Korean warship, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday highlighted the benefits of US-Chinese co-operation at the World Expo in Shanghai.

Her visit to the expo on the banks of the Huangpu River marked a respite from an intense three-nation journey to Asia that took her to Japan on Friday and will see her move to Beijing today and then to the South Korean capital, Seoul, on Wednesday.

At each stop on the way, the crisis over the ship incident is expected to dominate her agenda but nowhere more than in Beijing where she and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are leading a delegation of nearly 200 US officials for talks intended to improve economic and strategic relations.

That second round of the so-called Strategic and Economic Dialogue was supposed to be the main thrust of her Asia trip, but with last week’s report blaming Pyongyang for sinking the South Korean vessel, her main task in Beijing will now be to try to persuade China to support UN Security Council action against North Korea. China, North Korea’s primary ally and financial supporter has thus far remained neutral on the conclusions of the report that found Pyongyang responsible for firing a torpedo that sank the South Korean ship Cheonan in March, killing 46 sailors.

The UN Command’s Military Armistice Commission, which oversees the 1953 Korean War truce agreement, yesterday launched an independent investigation of the Cheonan’s sinking.

Representatives from Britain, Canada, Australia, the US, France, New Zealand, South Korea, Turkey and Denmark will review the findings of the multinational investigation and determine the scope of North Korea’s armistice violation, a UN spokesman said.

US officials travelling with Mrs Clinton said she would try to persuade the Chinese to ”acknowledge the reality” of what happened and support measures that would help persuade the North to change its behaviour.

A senior US official told reporters Mrs Clinton would ”try to make a powerful case about why this is an extraordinarily serious matter and why we want the strong co-operation from China”.

”We’d like to see them acknowledge the reality of what happened and then join with South Korea, Japan and us in helping to fashion a response that helps to change North Korean behaviour,” the official said.

Speaking in Japan on Friday, Mrs Clinton made it clear the Obama administration wanted the UN to take action against North Korea.

”Let me be clear. This will not be, and cannot be, business as usual,” Mrs Clinton said. ”There must be an international – not just a regional, but an international – response.”

Yesterday, however, Mrs Clinton adopted a low-key approach, but made clear she hoped the World Expo, in particular the popular US pavilion, would create greater understanding and goodwill ties between Washington and Beijing as well as the Chinese and American people.

”I will carry with me many positive feelings when I leave Shanghai tomorrow to go to Beijing,” she told the local Communist Party chief after visiting the Chinese pavilion. ”We think government-to-government relations are very important but we believe people-to-people relations between the Chinese and American people are the most important foundation for a very positive future between our two countries.”

AP, LOS ANGELES TIMES

Filed under: Beijing Consensus, Chinese overseas, Influence, International Relations, North Korea, Politics, Shanghai World Expo, Sinking of South Korean Warship Cheonan 2010, Strategic Economic Dialogue, The Age, U.S.

Sino-US dialogue set to restore trust [China Daily]

Sino-US dialogue set to restore trust
By Tan Yingzi, Ai Yang and Wu Jiao
Source – China Daily, published May 21, 2010

WASHINGTON / BEIJING – Next week’s top-level dialogue between China and the United States will set the tone for smoother bilateral relations with candid reflections on past problems as well as discussions on those looming on the horizon, said observers.

The talks follow a series of difficult situations between the two nations, including a $6.4-billion arms sale package to Taiwan, Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama and Google’s departure from the mainland.

“The significance of the dialogue is that the two countries can enhance mutual understanding and strategic trust, which is conducive to smooth discussions if there are more frictions in the future,” said Tao Wenzhao, an expert on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

An escalating situation on the Korean Pennisula and the European debt crisis will be among the top topics discussed at the talks between China and the United States next week, said senior officials from both sides.

The Second China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue – the highest-level forum between the two countries – will bring together 50 representatives from more than 40 departments of both countries, Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said on Thursday.

Cui said the dialogue would also include energy security, climate change, UN peacekeeping and anti-terrorism.

Regional issues including the sinking of a Republic of Korea warship, the Iran nuclear issue and the frequent intervention of US ships into China’s Exclusive Economic Zone will be among the remaining topics, according to diplomatic sources.

The dialogue, taking place May 24 and 25, will be co-chaired by Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Qishan and State Councilor Dai Bingguo, along with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.

Economic pressures

Dean Cheng, Asian studies expert with the Heritage Foundation, said economic concerns would play a large role during the dialogue as the Obama administration is facing pressure to produce positive economic news before mid-term elections this November.

“It is important to recognize that 2010 is an election year,” he told China Daily.

Tuesday’s results in Pennsylvania, where incumbent Democratic senator Arlen Specter was defeated – coupled with a recently lost senate seat in Massachusetts and governorships in Virginia and New Jersey – mean the White House will have to focus on basic politics, he told China Daily.

“In the United States, it’s a function of economics, not foreign policy, especially when the recession continues to drag on.”

The US has been blaming an undervalued Chinese currency and imbalanced trade with China for its increasing job losses, an accusation China denies.

The Treasury Department’s senior coordinator for China affairs, David Loevinger, said the US is still concerned about the currency issue.

“We’ve been very clear with the Chinese that this remains a top priority. And I think what’s happening in Europe reinforces the imperative that China move quickly to promote homegrown, consumption-led growth in its own economy.”

Philip I. Levy, resident scholar of the American Enterprise Institute, said the Obama administration would try to deflect currency conversations into a multilateral setting like the June G-20 meetings.

“We are in a period of a few months during which Congress has tacitly agreed to let the Obama administration pursue quiet multilateral diplomacy. If that has not shown results by the end of June, Congress will likely lose patience and act.”

Yet Yuan Peng said discussions on currency are unlikely to see a major breakthrough.

“The European sovereign debt crisis has made the US realize that a sharp RMB rate change will do no good for the recovery of Western economies,” said Yuan.

China wants “quiet discussions” about exchange rate issues, and loud lobbying will only delay movement on the yuan, Zhu Guangyao said.

“External pressure and noise will do nothing but slow the reform process,” he said of the yuan exchange rate.

Zhu also said that for China, Europe’s debt crisis has laid bare the fragility of global finances and the US, too, must tame its fiscal deficit.

“We have noted that President Obama and Treasury Secretary Geithner have stressed they are paying attention to the problem of the excessively high US fiscal deficit,” Zhu said, noting that it was also “a matter of concern to China.”

“We hope that the US fiscal deficit will fall to a certain proportion of its GDP when the economy recovers and reaches a sustainable level,” said Zhu.

The US budget deficit hit $1.4 trillion in 2009, roughly 10 percent of the economy. The White House projects the deficit this year will reach $1.6 trillion.

Filed under: China Daily, Communications, Influence, International Relations, Media, Strategic Economic Dialogue

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