China wants to reduce tensions with the US through quiet talks, not shouting matches, a top diplomat told White House advisers yesterday, aiming to pave the way for a visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤) early next year.
Chinese officials made the conciliatory public comments in meetings with US National Economic Council Director Larry Summers and US Deputy National Security Adviser Thomas Donilon. Both were in Beijing for talks.
Washington and Beijing are drawn together by economic and diplomatic interests, but this year has brought bursts of contention over Internet policies, US arms sales to Taiwan, Tibet and Chinese territorial claims in the disputed South China Sea.
US officials have said Hu is likely to visit the US early next year — an important but tricky political trophy for a Chinese leader — and Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo (戴秉國) stressed hopes for an amicable atmosphere.
“Quiet and in-depth dialogue is better than loud haranguing,” Dai told Summers and Donilon, in remarks made in the presence of reporters as the two sides sat down for talks. “At present, in no other relationship between countries is it more important to enhance dialogue, strengthen mutual confidence and expand and develop cooperation than it is between China and the United States.”
As a State Councilor, Dai advises leaders. His ranking in the Chinese Communist Party makes him more powerful within the government than Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪).
The conciliatory comments from Chinese officials indicated that Beijing wants to keep friction in check, even if deep differences over economic issues and regional disputes remain.
“There is strong inter-dependence and complementarity between the Chinese and US economies,” Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan (王岐山) told Summers and Donilon on Monday evening, Chinese state newspapers reported. “China-US relations are developing in a generally healthy way.”
Neither side has said what issues are being discussed during the two days of talks. Summers’ discussions with China’s top central banker, Zhou Xiaochuan (周小川), and other policy-makers are likely to include currency and trade issues.
The US complains that China keeps its yuan currency undervalued, giving its manufacturers an unfair advantage against imports and making Chinese exports cheaper.
China unofficially pegged the yuan to the US dollar from mid-2008 to the middle of this year, so the currency weakened against other trade partners as the value of the US dollar slid.
China ended that de facto peg on June 19, but the yuan has since weakened by about 0.33 percent against the US dollar, after appreciating as much as 0.91 percent on Aug. 9.
However, Summers and Donilon also took an upbeat public tone.
In comments made before reporters, Summers told Wang that US President Barack Obama “has emphasized for us the importance he attaches to a very strong relationship between the US and China and to President Hu’s upcoming visit to the United States.”