Fewer gains than hoped at China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue.

Updated On: May 12, 2011

Two days of high-level talks between the United States and China wrapped up on Tuesday. The scale of the annual event, which involved hundreds of politicians, bureaucrats, generals and business executives, stood in stark contrast to the limited results, which included modest progress on economic issues, argues a recent New York Times op-ed.

Report:  More Hopes Than Gains at US-China Meetings [The New York Times, May 10 2011]

This year’s annual dialogue came just after China had carried out its biggest crackdown on political dissenters in years. Authorities rounded up dozens of lawyers, writers, artists and other perceived political dissenters. Not surprisingly, the US has voiced its disapproval.

On the economic front, US and China have claimed success after two days of negotiations ended in a series of deals.  These include deals made on US corporations’ access to China’s market, on technology and on intellectual property, Chinese investment in the US. They also discussed export credits, financial reforms in China and stability of US debt just to name a few.  Tim Geithner, the US Treasury secretary, hailed “concrete, tangible signs of progress on both sides.”

While the Financial Times reported ‘progress’ in the China dialogue, New York Times and ChannelNewsAsia have viewed it less favourably as it was reported to be shadowed by China’s human rights records, which in turned is influenced by difference in ideology.

Report: US-China clash on rights deepen as talks wrap up [ChannelNewsAsia, May 10 2011] Geithner Hails 'Progress' in China Talks [Financial Times, May 11, 2011]

Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, said that China was wrong if it thought it could prevent change in the wake of the pro-democracy protests sweeping the Arab world. She added that they were trying to stop history- a fool’s errand. On the other hand, China’s vice premier, Wang Qishan, said that US media offered a limited view of China, and that the Americans, who are simpletons, are the world’s leading superpower and might not really comprehend the oriental culture of an ancient civilization.

One would then wonder why the US actively seeks China’s cooperation even with all their dissatisfaction. Clinton defends US’s actions by saying that we live in a real world, and it would be impractical for the US to walk away from dealings with China because of their human rights results.

Despite their disagreements, US and Chinese officials say they have made progress in ensuring that disagreements do not turn into full-fledged crises. In closing speeches on Tuesday, both parties emphasized that meeting and talking in themselves were sufficient achievements in order to lay the groundwork for grander bargains.

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