News / Asia

China, US Agree to Disagree on Many Global Issues

U.S. President Barack Obama and China's President Hu Jintao (File Photo).
U.S. President Barack Obama and China's President Hu Jintao (File Photo).

Multimedia

Last year, 2010, was a difficult one for US-China relations, with more public disagreements than agreements.

As China’s President Hu Jintao prepares to go to the United States, the focus will be on efforts to ensure that the two countries’ disagreements do not derail the overall relationship. Newspaper headlines this past year have been dominated by topics on which the two sides have differing, and sometimes opposing, positions.

Despite the friction, the two countries are committed to making the relationship work. This vision, as described a year ago by U.S. Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman, is still the guiding principle in U.S.-China relations.

“So, while the atmospherics might get challenging from time to time, we will hear commentary on both sides that speak to areas where we disagree - and we do disagree. I don’t think anyone will tell you otherwise,” he said. “The measure of the relationship will be whether we are able to put these differences on the sidelines.”

One source of disagreement is human rights. Chinese media alleged that the Nobel Peace Prize given to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo was a deliberate insult to China orchestrated by Western countries such as the United States.  

The U.S. government also is monitoring the case of Xue Feng, Chinese-American sentenced to eight years in prison on charges of spying. The U.S. Embassy in Beijing’s Deputy Chief of Mission Robert Goldberg was outside the courthouse for Xue’s appeal at the end of November.

“We made a formal request to attend Dr. Xue’s appeal hearing and provide him consular support consistent with the 1980 US-China Consular Convention," Goldberg states.  "The Beijing High People’s Court denied this request, and they denied it without explanation.”

Washington and Beijing also have differing opinions on North Korea, which fired on a South Korean island in November, killing four people.  

The United States has called on China to do more to rein in North Korea, its long-time ally. But Beijing has refrained from placing any blame on Pyongyang. China also criticized U.S. and South Korean military exercises in the region as increasing tensions.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei presented the Chinese position shortly after the November artillery attack.

Hong says China believes it is imperative to bring the issue back to the track of dialogue and negotiation as soon as possible.



Beijing has called on the six countries involved in North Korea nuclear disarmament discussions to come together to resolve the latest crisis on the Korean peninsula.

Exchange rates and China’s trade surplus with the United States are issues that the two countries disagree. Many U.S. critics accuse China of maintaining an unfair trade advantage by keeping its currency artificially weak.

Experts say there are many reasons the two countries appear to have had more disagreements lately.

“Clearly, you see the [global] power transition, you know, China is rising and the U.S. is, to probably say it in relative terms, is in a relative decline. Therefore, this is the structural reason for a lot of things going on,” said Wang Dong, an associate professor of international relations at Peking University. “And secondly, the perception gap, which is also caused by the cultural differences between the two countries, then we also have the misperception and the nationalism in China, and also the domestic politics in both countries. I think we ought to take a wide range of different factors.”

Wang is among those who feel that with new global challenges, China and the United States share common goals and interests, and therefore - despite frequent disagreements - should find a way to work together.

Experts on the relationship say Mr. Hu’s visit to Washington this month is part of efforts to find common ground on some issues, and build understanding for each other’s positions where differences remain.

Also as part of efforts to improve relations, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has visited China.

SAIS Professor David Lampton
SAIS Professor David Lampton

David Lampton is Director of China Studies at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies. He says China often curtails military relations to express its anger at disputes with the United States, and that has increased U.S. concerns about Beijing’s defense plans.

"And I think they’ve [the Chinese] become, in my view, alarmed at the degree of mistrust of China’s strategic intentions, and I think there’s some serious consideration being given that we can’t continue to play this tit-for-tat kind of game, holding military relations, exchanges, hostage every time we [the United States] do something,” Lampton said. “So, I think Gates coming here may be the beginning of a process in which we have a somewhat more durable military to military relationship, and I think that’s a good thing.”

However, on the first day of Gates visit, Chinese defense officials brushed off his proposal for a strategic dialogue in which the two countries could try to improve understanding of their defense policies.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid