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.
William Ide
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

Photogallery Americans Celebrate Thanksgiving With Feasts, Festivities

Holiday traditions include turkey dinners, 'turkey trots,' American-style football and New York parade with giant balloons More

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

With two years left in term, analysts say, president has less to lose by taking conversation on race further More

Video Italian Espresso Expands Into Space

When Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti headed for the ISS, her countrymen worried how she would survive six months drinking only instant coffee More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violencei
X
Lenny Ruvaga
November 27, 2014 7:05 PM
The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video To Make A Living, Nairobi Street Vendors Face Legal Hurdles, Physical Violence

The Nairobi City Council has been accused of brutality in dealing with hawkers in the Central Business District - in order to stop them from illegally selling their wares on the streets. Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video For Obama, Ferguson Violence is a Personal Issue

Throughout the crisis in Ferguson, Missouri, President Barack Obama has urged calm, restraint and respect for the rule of law. But the events in Ferguson have prompted him to call — more openly than he has before — for profound changes to end the racism and distrust that he believes still exists between whites and blacks in the United States. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Online Magazine Gets Kids Discussing Big Questions

Teen culture in America is often criticized for being superficial. But an online magazine has been encouraging some teenagers to explore deeper issues, and rewarding their efforts. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky went to this year’s Kidspirit awards ceremony in New York.
Video

Video US Community Kicks Off Thanksgiving With Parade

Thursday is Thanksgiving in the United States, a holiday whose roots go back to the country's earliest days as a British colony. One way Americans celebrate the occasion is with parades. Anush Avetisyan takes us to one such event on the day before Thanksgiving near Washington, where a community's diversity is on display. Joy Wagner narrates
Video

Video Aung San Suu Kyi: Myanmar Opposition to Keep Pushing for Constitutional Change

Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi says she and her supporters will continue pushing to amend a constitutional clause that bars her from running for president next year. VOA's Than Lwin Htun reports from the capital Naypyitaw in this report narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Mali Attempts to Shut Down Ebola Transmission Chain

Senegal and Nigeria were able to stop small Ebola outbreaks by closely monitoring those who had contact with the sick person and quickly isolating anyone with symptoms. Mali is now scrambling to do the same. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Mali on what the country is doing to shut down the chain of transmission.
Video

Video Ukraine Marks Anniversary of Deadly 1930s Famine

During a commemoration for millions who died of starvation in Ukraine in the early 1930s, President Petro Poroshenko lashed out at Soviet-era totalitarianism for causing the deaths and accused today’s Russian-backed rebels in the east of using similar tactics. VOA’s Daniel Shearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests at a Crossroads

New public opinion polls in Hong Kong indicate declining support for pro-democracy demonstrations after weeks of street protests. VOA’s Bill Ide in Guangzhou and Pros Laput in Hong Kong spoke with protesters and observers about whether demonstrators have been too aggressive in pushing for change.
Video

Video US Immigration Relief Imminent for Mixed-Status Families

Tens of thousands of undocumented immigrants in the Washington, D.C., area may benefit from a controversial presidential order announced this week. It's not a path to citizenship, as some activists hoped. But it will allow more immigrants who arrived as children or who have citizen children, to avoid deportation and work legally. VOA's Victoria Macchi talks with one young man who benefited from an earlier presidential order, and whose parents may now benefit after years of living in fear.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid