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

Uganda Court Annuls Anti-Gay Law

Court says law was passed in parliament without enough members present for a full quorum More

Multimedia Thailand Makes Efforts to Improve Conditions for Migrant Laborers

In Thailand, its not uncommon for parents to bring their children to work; one company, in-collaboration with other organizations, address safety concerns More

In Indonesia, Jihad Video Raises Concern

Video calls on Indonesians to join Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL 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.
In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborersi
X
Steve Herman
August 01, 2014 6:22 PM
Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video In Thailand, Some Efforts to Improve Conditions For Migrant Laborers

Thailand has been facing increasing international scrutiny as a hub of human trafficking and slave labor. Some of the kingdom’s companies are striving to improve working conditions, especially for the millions of migrant laborers from surrounding countries. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok takes a look at one initiative for children at construction sites
Video

Video Public Raises its Voice on Power Plant Pollution

In the United States, proposed rules to cut pollution from the nation’s 600 coal-fired power plants are generating a heated debate. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, charged with writing and implementing the plan, has already received 300,000 written comments. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, another 1,600 people are lining up this week at EPA headquarters and at satellite offices around the country to give their testimony in person.
Video

Video Information War Rages Alongside Real One in Ukraine

The downing of the Malaysian airliner two weeks ago, and allegations that Russians are shelling Ukrainian troops across the border, have moved the information war swirling around the Ukrainian conflict to a new level. VOA's Al Pessin reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video When Fighting Eases, Gazans Line Up at Bakeries

When there is a lull in the conflict in Gaza, residents who have been hunkered down in their apartments rush out to stock up on food and other necessities. Probably the most important destination is the local bakery. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Gaza City.
Video

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

The public in China is welcoming the Communist Party's decision to investigate one of the country's once most powerful politicians, former domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang. Analysts say the move by President Xi Jinping is not only an effort to win more support for the party, but an essential step to furthering much needed economic reforms and removing those who would stand in the way of change. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US-Funded Program Offers Honduran Children Alternative to Illegal Immigration

President Obama and Central American leaders recently agreed to come up with a plan to address poverty and crime in the region that is fueling the surge of young migrants trying to illegally enter the United States. VOA’s Brian Padden looks at one such program in Honduras - funded in part by the United States - which gives street kids not only food and safety but a chance for a better life without, crossing the border.
Video

Video 'Fab Lab' Igniting Revolution in Kenya

The University of Nairobi’s Science and Technology Park is banking on 3-D prototyping to spark a manufacturing revolution in the country. Lenny Ruvaga has more for from Nairobi's so-called “FabLab” for VOA.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.

AppleAndroid