The US and China have agreed not to aggravate differences but have fallen short of achieving any reset in bilateral relations. This appears to be the main outcome of President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington where the demonstratively warm welcome accorded him by President Barack Obama means that there will be no Cold War between the two nations.
In what sounded like an apology, President Obama said during a joint news conference with Hu that, by virtue of his mentality, he simply had to bring up the issue of human rights in China. The Chinese leader initially let the whole matter drop, citing translation glitches but then, all of a sudden, admitted that, yes, his country still had a long way to go on this issue.
As to the rate of the Yuan, President Hu ignored the matter altogether, despite his American colleague’s complaint about Beijing dragging its feet on pegging its national currency on the world market.
Washington’s attempts to persuade the Chinese delegation that the People’s Republic would only benefit from the US military presence in Asia equally fell flat. In an apparent move to sweeten the pill, the Chinese later agreed to resume contacts between the two countries’ military which Beijing cut off a year ago rattled by US military supplies to Taiwan.
All this means that fundamental differences between the two nations remain very much there, says Gennady Chufrin, a Moscow-based foreign affairs analyst.
The Chinese apparently decided to ease recent tensions with Washington with the help of a series of statements and concessions, most of which are such in name only and have no impact on the country’s stand on fundamental issues… It seems to me they managed to achieve this primarily on trade and other economic issues to avert a very real Republican threat of discriminative measures against Chinese exports to the US…
Beijing promised US exporters wider access to its domestic market. The Americans responded with a pledge of full-blown high-tech exports to China. This is seen by many as Washington’s attempt to restore a trade balance with China, which the Americans attribute to the artificially low rate of the Yuan which, in turn, boosts Chinese exports and fuels the current surplus in China trade with America.
When Hu Jintao paid a state visit to Washington in 2006, China was the world’s fourth biggest economy. Things have changed a lot ever since though with the People’s Republic now in second place after the US and ahead of Japan.
And America’s main creditor too… Hence all the pomp and circumstance that came with President Hu’s visit to Washington, the posh receptions and personal acquaintance with America’s First Lady and First Kids – all this pointing to the changing balance of forces between the two powers.