News / Asia

    US-China Talks to Open With North Korea High on the Agenda

    On Monday, nearly 200 U.S. officials will begin holding talks in Beijing with their Chinese counterparts in the second round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue. The annual get together seeks to boost coordination of U.S. - China security and economic policies. During this year's talks, China analysts say concerns over rising tensions on the Korean peninsula will be a key focus of discussions and a possible source of disagreement.

    U.S. officials say Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are leading one of the largest groups of Cabinet and lower-level officials ever to visit China. Virtually all elements of the U.S. government will be represented, including key players from the Department of Defense and U.S. Pacific Command.

    The talks on Monday and Tuesday will be co-chaired by secretaries Clinton and Geithner along with China's State Councilor Dai Bingguo and Vice Premier Wang Qishan.

    During the meetings, Washington and Beijing will trade views on political and economic issues that at times over the past year have tripped up ties between the two countries.

    China analysts say the meetings will give the two an opportunity to discuss ways that the world's largest and third largest economies can help stabilize the global economy as well as help Europe with its emerging financial crisis.

    Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Beijing's Renmin University says Seoul's recent allegations that North Korea sank a South Korean warship in March, killing 46 sailors, will be a major topic of discussion.

    "China's position obviously still has a huge distance from the Republic of Korea [South Korea] and the United States, so I think that the most important, most urgent and most disagreed topic is North Korea," said Shi.

    Seoul calls the incident a "military provocation" and a breach of the 1953 armistice agreement that ended the Korean War. South Korea is also pushing for U.N. Security Council sanctions or other coordinated action against the North.

    North Korea threatened Friday to cut off all ties with South Korea and scrap a bilateral non-aggression pact.

    The North has rejected Seoul's accusations that it was responsible for sinking the ship, and denounced plans by the United Nations Command form a special team to investigate South Korea's claims. The command oversees the 57-year-old armistice between the two countries.

    Secretary Clinton says the United States is working with Japan, China and South Korea to determine an "international response" to the incident.

    China is North Korea's primary ally and financial supporter. So far, Beijing has maintained a neutral position on the conclusions of Seoul's report and urged both Koreas to show restraint.

    Renmin University's Shi says that depending on how hard Clinton pushes the issue, China could give some kind of a minor concession and let the issue move on to the U.N. Security Council, but he doubts it could go further than that.

    "It [China] is extremely reluctant to accept even a non-obligatory chairman statement condemning North Korea, let alone a sanctions resolution against North Korea," said Shi.

    Lin Chong-Pin, a professor of strategic studies at Taiwan's Tamkang University says that in his view, Beijing has gradually been distancing itself from Pyongyang ever since the North carried out its second nuclear test in 2006.

    "China has found that it is against its own national interests to support Pyongyang as it did [in the past]," said Lin. "China is moving away from that high-degree support towards a neutral ground."

    Lin says that after the ship-sinking it is more important for China to promote regional security than give Pyongyang the support it gave in the past.

    "And on top of all that, North Koreans keep telling the United States don't go around Beijing to talk to us, talk to us directly," added Lin. "So, I've heard that Chinese officials and even generals have been very unhappy with North Korea for quite awhile."

    Lin says that if China gives too much support to the North, it could have an impact on its increasing regional influence in South Korea.

    Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will travel to South Korea this week for a three-nation summit, which will also include Japan. The attack is expected to be a topic of discussion in those talks as well.

    In addition to the worries about North Korea, U.S. officials are expected to raise concerns about investment policies in China that make it difficult for American companies to compete.

    They will also discuss China's policy on valuing its currency, the Yuan, but that topic is likely to be downplayed as Washington has made it clear that it is waiting for Beijing to take the next move.

    China has said that it will not be pushed on the issue and that any pressure will only slow its efforts to adjust its currency.

    For its part, China is expected to push the U.S. on export controls that restrict its import of high-tech goods. It is also likely to remind Washington of the concerns it has about U.S. debt.

    Analysts say it is surprising that Washington and Beijing are coming into the meeting without any major conflicts in front of them, especially given the turbulent state of ties only months ago.

    Professor David Shambaugh, a China scholar at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., says relations began showing strain starting with President Barrack Obama's visit to China last year. Those strains increased with Beijing's 11-year prison sentence for human rights activist Liu Xiaobo last December, U.S. approval of an arms sale package to Taiwan, a visit by Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, to Washington and tensions over trade.

    "But that was the winter and then came spring," said Shambaugh. "And we've seen here in the last six weeks or so, clearly the two governments trying to bring some stability first of all back into the relationship that was in a kind of downward spiral."

    Shambaugh says that looking for major agreements to come out of this week's meetings misses the broader purpose of the talks. He says that purpose is to get all of the players in the same room together to talk about global, domestic and regional issues.

    "Don't expect too much tangibly to come out of the S&ED," added Shambaugh. "That's not what it is intended for, it is intended to be a broad gauged, cross-bureaucratic, and cross-issue dialogue that tries to overcome the vertical stovepipe bureaucracies in both government's, particularly this one [China]."

    Indeed, some critics have noted that the gathering produces too few tangible results and note that officials on both sides already meet and talk with each other enough on a regular basis.

    Shambaugh says he believes the meetings are still important, but notes the annual meeting could be improved with the establishment of follow-up working groups to make the Strategic and Economic Dialogue more than just a two-day on, rest of the year off, event.

    You May Like

    Video US Observes Memorial Day With Wreath-laying, National Concert

    Obama lays a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    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.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora