Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pre-Summit Beijing-Washington Frictions

Pre-Summit Beijing-Washington Frictions
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
A Translation
August 26, 2015

Executive Summary: Relations between Beijing and Washington manifest themselves in many areas of long-term policy. Crisis management mechanisms must be established. So must mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation. These are the most urgent tasks for the Obama Xi meeting. Beijing and Washington must work together toward harmony and a win-win relationship. No one-man show will ever solve their problems.

Full Text Below:

Mainland Chinese President Xi Jinping is about to depart on his first state visit to the United States. Beijing-Washington relations remain a mystery. The Obama Xi meeting remains full of variables.

In early February, White House national security adviser Susan Rice revealed that Xi Jinping would visit the US. Since then, Beijing and Washington have clashed repeatedly. In July, Beijing enacted a "National Security Law" and "Offshore NGO Management Law", raising eyebrows within the international community. Beijing's controls over the media and public speech are increasingly strict. Online and NGO activists have often been subject to interrogation, house arrest, even imprisonment, provoking a backlash in US public opinion. Americans have converged on the official White House web site and petitioned Obama to cancel Xi Jinping's visit. Think tank scholars have appealed to Washington to suspend the content free Obama Xi meeting.

The eve of the Obama Xi meeting is filled with an atmosphere of confrontation. Washington may be hoping to gain bargaining chips. Beijing and Washington are at loggerheads with each other over human rights. Their tit for tat is nothing new. In theory, it poses no obstacle to an Obama Xi meeting. The United States' deterrent actions against Mainland Chinese land reclaimation on islands and reefs in the South China Sea did not have the desired effect. The United States should not rush to cancel the Xi Jinping visit. It should instead attempt to ease tensions in East Asia.

The Obama Xi meeting is a major event for the PRC and USA. A tempest in a teapot is unlikely to affect bilateral relations. US State Department spokesman John Kirby recently said that the United States has yet to receive an official invitation for President Obama to attend the WWII 70th anniversary parade in Beijing. His implication was that if Beijing issued an invitation, Washington would consider participating. Kirby's statement established a friendly atmosphere for the Beijing-Washington meeting, and revealed that the Obama Xi meeting would be held as scheduled.

Beijing and Washington are having great difficulty establishing a new great power relationship. The obstacles are difficult and varied. Old issues persist. New issues arise. The Obama Xi meeting will test Beijing-Washington relations. The key remains how to narrow the differences between Beijing and Washington. The RMB continues to depreciate. Beijing has completed its "fox hunt" for officials who fled to the United States. The Mainland's human rights record continues to deteriorate, and is becoming a thorny issue that the Obama Xi meeting will have to face.

Mainland China is adhering to its path of peaceful development. It is also defending its core interests. Beijing must cope with the global economy, network security, climate change, financial reform, and international terrorism. It is fully prepared to cooperate with the United States. But on sovereignty or territorial disputes, it has absolutely no room for compromise. Xi Jinping's new great power relationship between Mainland China and the US requires respect for each other's core interests and strategic concerns.

Clashes between Beijing and Washington are due mainly to the yawning chasm between the two sides' political values and strategic interests. The US criticizes Mainland China for manipulating its currency, but tolerates the Abe government's quantitative easing. Washington supports Beijing's anti-corruption policies, but refuses to sign an extradition treaty. The US claims it will not provide a safe haven for criminals from any nation, but persistently makes the repatriation of criminals to Mainland China difficult. Recently it even issued a stern warning against Mainland Chinese agents conducting "fox hunting" operations in the United States.

Beijing and Washington agreed to the inclusion of human rights and Taiwan issues in the September Obama Xi meeting. Obviously this was the result of each side sticking to its guns. A new round of human rights talks was held in Washington in mid-August. Beijing and Washington failed to reach a consensus on judicial reform, religious freedom, or racial discrimination. Beijing recently proposed "Three Things to Avoid", namely, double standards, politicization, and "microphone diplomacy", criticizing US human rights policy double standards.

The issue of Taiwan has become part of the Obama Xi meeting agenda, mainly due to changes in Taiwan's internal situation. It shows that Beijing is concerned about the increasing arrogance displayed by Taiwan independence elements. In early August, Zhang Zhijun, director of the Mainland's Taiwan Affairs Office issued a statement Speaking from Changchun, Jilin, Zhang said the 1992 Consensus means "Taiwan and the Mainland are both part of one China". In mid-August, while visiting the United States, Zhang said relations across the Strait are at a crossroads. One road adheres to the 1992 Consensus, and ensures peaceful development. The other attempts to turn back the clock, and takes the mistaken path toward Taiwan independence. He was warning the DPP that "different choices will lead to different outcomes."

Zhang Zhijun's voice was calm. But it hinted at severe difficulties in future cross-Straits relations. The Obama Xi meeting will inevitably prompt the White House to reaffirm its commitment to its One China Policy and the "three Sino-US joint communiques", and even underscore Wahington's support for the 1992 Consensus, the very thing the DPP wishes to avoid.

Relations between Beijing and Washington manifest themselves in many areas of long-term policy. Crisis management mechanisms must be established. So must mechanisms for dialogue and cooperation. These are the most urgent tasks for the Obama Xi meeting. Beijing and Washington must work together toward harmony and a win-win relationship. No one-man show will ever solve their problems.

試水溫 中美峰會前摩擦不斷
2015-8-26 中國時報












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