News / Asia

Former US Diplomat Critical of Hu State Visit

Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (File Photo)
Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage (File Photo)
Les Carpenter

Chinese President Hu Jintao is now in Washington to hold talks with President Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday. Both sides are said to be holding out hopes for those talks making some kind of progress.

Richard Armitage, former Deputy Secretary of State in the Bush Administration, told VOA he is concerned about the outcome even though he has hopes for a successful summit.  

He says he thinks the United States has made an error in providing the Chinese visitors with all the trappings of a state visit without ironing out the substance of the summit.  

Armitage said in his experience, when you "give away the protocol, you never get to the substance."

The former Deputy Secretary of State said that if President Hu Jintao is in Washington for what he called "a sort of a victory lap" in his last year in office, then the U.S. should have used that as leverage to get more agreements in place before Mr. Hu arrived.

Many experts say the controversy over the value of the Chinese currency to be one of the major stumbling blocks for these talks. It is not clear if any agreement on the currency issue will be reached during the summit.

And, the American side wants success in getting China to be more helpful in pushing North Korea to relinquish its nuclear weapons program.  

But, Armitage says China may be a bit limited in what it can and is willing to do on that issue.  He says China may not want North Korea to have nuclear weapons, but would "dislike [it] even more if there was instability or there were South Korean and United States troops on it border".   

Mr. Armitage says both sides will likely "agree that it's a worrisome situation and both need to work on it."

On another contentious issue, the sale of U.S. military hardware to Taiwan, he says he believes more sales are to come, but not during the summit to avoid embarrassing China. He points out that he wishes "the Chinese side had taken the same point of view when they unveiled and tested their new fighter jet during the time of Bob Gates' visit" to China.

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