Obama handles China delicately

July 29, 2009

It’s too early to tell whether President Barack Obama’s new approach to China will be more successful than his predecessor’s. But this week’s high-level dialogue in Washington underlined how the balance of power is shifting. CHINA-USA/OBAMA

The U.S. side, determined to be more respectful and less confrontational, tiptoed around the sensitive issue of China’s currency, avoiding any public appeal for an upwards revaluation in the yuan.

There was a passing reference to the rights of China’s ethnic and religious minorities, but no sign the other side would take any more notice of foreign interference in its internal affairs than it has in the past.

Not was there any evidence the Chinese and Americans were any closer on issues from climate change to how to deal with countries like North Korea and Sudan.

The Chinese, though, seemed less circumspect, more confident even in their public statements. Washington, they argued, should rein in its budget deficit and refrain from flooding the world with dollars.

They are, after all, holding more than $800 billion in U.S. Treasury debt, and don’t want to see the value of those investments fall.

And when you have such a big customer, you better listen to them, as the Wall Street Journal pointed out this morning.

Obama wants to see the two countries as partners, not rivals, for the 21st century, not always seeing eye to eye on everything but sharing common problems and common interests.

It was a beguiling vision, and China experts say his less confrontational approach may have more chance of success with a country not used to being told what to do.

But the question that must be asked is how seriously will the Chinese take American advice? Is talk of a real partnership between two countries with vastly different cultures just wishful thinking?    

For more Reuters political news, click here.

Photo credit: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst (Obama speaks at opening of U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington)

2 comments

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Methinks BHO alone cannot deal with mainland China and its national interest – with its asymmetric aspirations.
The presence of HRC and Geithner (mandarin speaking!) provides some serious interlocutors who can, if required, close a deal with Chinese counterparts.

Like Mao said long ago, it’s a Long March! Sino-American relations can get better today because of the financial crisis and emergence of mainland China as bankroller of US Treasury.

In other words, there are reinforcing policy pre-requisites which will constantly force the parties to ever closer relation – inspite of their ideological and policy contradictions.

Bottomline, Russia and India (along with EU) are relentlessly watching this *marriage of convenience* with hesitating disbelief – while Nixon/Kissinger were the political catalysts for emergencce of this entente cordial!

Posted by hari | Report as abusive

Obama,s “why can,t we all be friends”policy seems not to be getting any traction.the much awaited”change” that was going to bring in “an new era cooperation”is not working.it was expected to follow automatically after Obama apologized for Americas past deeds.the only moderate success obama has had is with hugo chaves,and that is if he tries to sell his book.but relationships with other countries are now worse than when bush was in office!hillary has offended north korea,biden has infuriated russia,and protesters are marching in israel against obama.china has told obama to be careful with his spending and india has told him to keep his nose out of their energy policy.this is not what we were told to expect!

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive