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2009年11月19日 (木)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Nov. 18(IHT/Asahi: November 19,2009)
EDITORIAL: Obama's talks with Hu.

Visiting China for the first time, U.S. President Barack Obama met with Chinese President Hu Jintao on Tuesday. The two leaders pledged cooperation not only on bilateral issues but also on a broad spectrum of global challenges ranging from the economy to security, nuclear problems and climate change.

Obama scheduled the longest chunk of his whirlwind Asia tour itinerary for his stay in China. In appreciation of this gesture, the entire Chinese leadership laid out the red carpet for him. This was symbolic of what has come to be called an era of the "G-2" partnership between the United States and China.

Obama and Hu have confirmed their shared understanding that their countries are now economically inseparable, and that global problems in this century cannot be resolved without their close collaboration.

On climate change, for instance, Obama referred to the United States and China as the world's largest consumers and producers of energy, and the two leaders agreed to aim for a comprehensive deal that would have "immediate operational effect" at the 15th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP15) in Copenhagen next month.

As for Obama's call for a nuclear-free world, the two leaders promised to lead the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to a successful conclusion, and committed themselves to early ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

With the world still struggling to turn the corner on the global economic recession, Obama and Hu concurred that all forms of protectionism must be shunned. However, they apparently made little progress on pending bilateral trade disputes over tires and steel pipes.

At present, the United States and China are still at the stage of exploring where they can start collaborating.

While the two leaders agreed to bolster their cooperation on nuclear issues concerning North Korea and Iran, it appears that China had no specific proposals to offer. Obviously, China does not want to apply pressure on Iran because of its own energy needs.

From its inception, the Obama administration has been under criticism at home and abroad for only playing softball with Beijing on human rights and civil liberties issues with respect to ethnic Tibetans and Uighurs. Aware of the criticism, Obama mentioned the Tibetan problem during his joint news conference with Hu and urged him to reopen dialogue with the Dalai Lama and his representatives. The remarks, however, were not included in the joint statement.

During the summit, Obama said the United States "welcomes China as a strong, prosperous and successful member of the community of nations." In response, Hu said China welcomes the United States as an Asia-Pacific nation that strives for regional peace, security and prosperity. The leaders also reaffirmed the importance of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

But Washington's return to a policy of engagement with Asia, which Obama has been stressing during this tour, is obviously calculated to keep China's presence and influence in the region in check.

The deepening of U.S.-China cooperation is not a simple, one-dimensional process, and there is no need for Japan to feel left behind in this "G-2" era. And while the United States and China hold the key to resolving the North Korean nuclear problem, there are numerous economic and environmental challenges that the two giants cannot successfully address without Japan's involvement. In short, we have entered an era that requires multiple-layer sharing of responsibilities.


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