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

Multimedia Obama, Modi Break Nuclear Deal Deadlock

Impasse over liability issues had been stalling bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation; deal reached at start of US president's three-day visit to India More

WHO's Late Efforts in Tackling Ebola Highlight Need for Reform

Health experts debate measures to reform agency’s response to global public health emergencies in special one-day session on deadly outbreak More

One Tumultuous Year in Power for CAR's President

As sectarian violence raged across Central African Republic, interim President Catherine Samba-Panza has Herculean task: to end civil war and put country back on right track 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid