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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

Audio 'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs