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

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease 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.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid