News / Asia

    Despite Sunny Summit, Challenges Remain for US, China

    President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, walk at the Annenberg Retreat of the Sunnylands estate on June 8, 2013 in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
    President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, left, walk at the Annenberg Retreat of the Sunnylands estate on June 8, 2013 in Rancho Mirage, Calif.
    American and Chinese officials agreed at an informal summit last Friday and Saturday to work together to combat climate change and end North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The two discussed the touchy issue of cyber-security, as well as wide range of other topics. But it is still unclear just how far the talks will go to bridging major differences and easing mistrust between the two global powers.

    Coverage in China of the informal summit has largely been optimistic and it continues to be at the top of hourly newscasts, more than a day after the talks wrapped up in sunny California.

    New chapter

    On Monday, the state-run China Daily ran a bold headline that read: “Ready to Open a New Chapter” on its front page.  The piece highlighted a quote from State Councilor Yang Jiechi at the close of the meeting, who called the more than eight hours of talks unprecedented in terms of length, quality and depth.

    U.S. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon who, along with Yang, briefed the media at the end of the meetings, called the talks constructive, wide-ranging and positive.

    Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a political scientist at Hong Kong Baptist University, said both sides want to give the meetings a positive underpinning. He said they want to tell the world that they are going to work together to at least minimize frictions, if not manage them.

    “But again, it remains to be seen whether this summit is going to be significant for the future of U.S.-China relations, or whether it will be regarded in the future as an unsuccessful attempt to mend a relationship where actually areas of conflict get bigger and bigger and bigger than areas of cooperation,” Cabestan said.

    Challenges

    Right now, for all of the areas in which the United States and China are growing in cooperation, there are many challenges as well.  The two have been working - albeit slowly - for years to build up military-to-military ties.

    During the talks, China agreed to participate in a joint exercise with the U.S. Navy for the first time next summer. Boosting communication between the two countries’ militaries is something analysts say could go a long way to help avoiding conflicts at a time when the threat of miscalculation is growing.

    China’s increased activity to defend what it says are its territorial claims in the South China Sea  is raising concerns in the region. For its part, Beijing is highly suspicious of U.S. efforts to refocus its attention on the Asian region, not only economically, but militarily as well.

    The U.S. Navy expects to shift 60 percent of its assets to the Pacific by 2020, in what some strategists in China believe is part of an effort to encircle China and counter its rise.

    “You look at the U.S. actions on the ground and many of them are symbolic," noted Xie Tao, a professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University. "For example the stationing of 1,200 U.S. soldiers in Darwin, Australia, and joint military exercise with the Philippines. These are more symbolic than substantive. But for the Chinese perceptions, they say, why are you coming back?”

    Cyber security

    The United States says the one issue that is key to the future of the bilateral relationship is cyber security.  For months now, the two have been going back and forth with both accusing the other of being the source of attacks that have had costly economic and national security repercussions.

    The two leaders had not been scheduled to meet until later this year, and political analysts say concerns about those attacks and the U.S. shift of its attention back to the region are part of the reason why they met sooner.

    At next month’s Strategic and Economic Dialogue, a broad-ranging annual round of talks between the two countries, the United States and China will hold a special panel on cyber security.

    But Arthur Ding, a research fellow at National Chengchi University in Taiwan, says it is hard to see them making any progress on the issue. He said the United States and China have already been holding non-official talks for five or six years.

    “They all talk about the principles issues, but no achievement has been made, because the cyber is quite a virtual issue," Ding explained, "there is no physical activity that you can detect, although principle speaking they can agree on something, but concrete cooperation I would say is quite difficult.”

    Hong Kong Baptist University’s Cabestan said one should not expect too much from Chinese authorities on cyber attacks. He said the message the U.S. administration appears to be trying to convey is that companies need to be more careful and better protected.

    “First the reach of the state in China is not as strong and as powerful as people may presume and secondly China's scientific and technological development is much behind the U.S., so China needs to steal much more from the U.S than the other way around, so as any growing power in need for technology, if you can't buy the technology you are trying to steal it,” Cabestan said.

    Public opinion

    Still, despite these challenges, according to a new U.S. Gallup poll, released last week, 55 percent of American’s surveyed say they view China as either an ally (11 percent) or a nation friendly to the United States (44 percent). The survey says that 40 percent view China as either unfriendly (26 percent) or an enemy (14 percent). 

    Analysts say part of the challenge in dealing with such a wide range of issues is that both nations have their own national interests and striking a balance is often hard.

    An opinion piece in the state-owned Global Times newspaper Monday argues that it is unfair to think that China does not want to resolve concrete issues. But, it adds, U.S. demands are often impossible to comply with.

    You May Like

    Video Democrats Clinton, Kaine Offer 'Very Different Vision' Than Trump

    In a jab at Trump, Clinton says her team wants to 'build bridges, not walls'; Obama Hails Kaine's record; Trump calls Kaine a 'job-killer'

    Turkey Wants Pakistan to Close Down institutions, Businesses Linked to Gulen

    Thousands of Pakistani students are enrolled in Gulen's commercial network of around two dozen institutions operating in Pakistan for over two decades

    AU Passport A Work in Progress

    Who will get the passport and what the benefits are still need to be worked out

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora