Fri, Jan 28, 2011 - Page 8 News List

How successful was Hu’s US visit?

By Sushil Seth

These commercial deals are expected to create more than 200,000 jobs in the US.

The Obama administration is making much of it with an unemployment rate of just under 10 percent.

Hu has also promised to ease restrictions and barriers to US investment in China. Furthermore, he has agreed to protect US intellectual property rights as well as to make the -awarding of domestic contracts to US companies more fair.

All this, too, has been said before. Therefore, before we loudly celebrate these “new” trends, one has to -question what precisely has been achieved to further US-China relations.

Certainly, Hu’s visit, with his gala reception, has changed the atmosphere between the two countries; discounting, of course, his frosty reception from the US Congress across the political spectrum.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid called him a dictator on a radio program.

On concrete issues like the US demand for currency revaluation to give the US a level playing field in trade, China will only do things at its own pace.

The US annual trade deficit of about US$250 billion still remains. And there doesn’t seem much hope of improving the jobs situation by revival of competitive manufacturing in the US.

On strategic issues, China has rightly expressed concern over Pyongyang’s new uranium enrichment facility. It has also come out in favor of military talks between North and South Korea. Beijing has made similar gestures in the past, but is reluctant to pressure North Korea.

As Pang Zhongying (龐中英) at Beijing’s Renmin University told the Australian newspaper on the direction of these relations: “Both sides are talking in their own language in the communique, but not much freshness was expressed.”

“Though both sides are talking about a plan for the future, no new theory or approach was worked out,” he said.

In other words, it is more a case of hope without “a longer-perspective plan redefining Sino-US relations.”

FLEXING MUSCLES

Take, for instance, their military relationship. In recent months, China has been quite aggressive about laying claim to sovereignty over waters and islands in the Asia-Pacific region.

It also warned the US against joint war exercises with South Korea in the Yellow Sea, effectively telling it to keep out of China’s sphere of influence.

However, Hu still maintained that, “We do not engage in arms races, we are not a military threat to any country. China will never seek to dominate or pursue an expansionist policy.”

Such declarations have no meaning unless matched with peaceful action. And that has been lacking.

The recent China visit of US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was even more illustrative of the problems in the US-China military relationship.

China is continuing to play hardball, and its announcement of the testing of a J-20 stealth fighter during his visit illustrates this.

If not for any other reason, making the announcement to coincide with Robert Gates’ visit was in bad taste. What was Beijing trying to prove?

Were they telling the US that their course was set to keep building a powerful military machine to eventually overtake the US?

Of course, Hu assured Gates that the timing of the test was not deliberate, but coincidental. And when asked if he believed him, he gallantly said that he took Hu at his word.

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