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2011年1月22日 (土)


--The Asahi Shimbun, Jan. 21
EDITORIAL: U.S.-China summit

While recognizing each other's differences as differences, U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, showed their willingness to mend relations. The summit between the two leaders in Washington turned out as they planned.

President Hu, who visited the United States as a state guest, received a red carpet welcome with a 21-gun salute that boomed across the White House lawn. Obama also invited Hu to dinner in the residential wing where he lives with his family.

"With this visit, we can lay the foundation for the next 30 years," Obama said as he welcomed Hu. Since Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping (1904-1997) visited the United States in 1979 when the two nations established diplomatic ties, they have built bilateral relations over the last 30-odd years.

Obama wants to follow that example. Hu also vowed to advance a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship.

The joint statement that was released covers 41 items, including cooperation on space development and the Sudan peace process. However, we hear no calls about the advent of a G-2 framework with the United States and China at the helm as we did when Obama visited China in autumn 2009. During this time, U.S.-China relations were fraying.

When the Obama administration first started, it advocated the establishment of strategic trust with China and expressed expectations for China to play a role as a responsible major power.

But China would not easily follow plans envisioned by the United States. On the problem of climate change, China stressed its position as "a developing country," causing U.S. enthusiasm to shrivel. When the Obama administration stuck to its policy to sell weapons to Taiwan, China took retaliatory measures.

Also in the summit this time, no progress was made on such key issues as the revaluation of the Chinese yuan and human rights.

Sticking to his government' basic stance, Hu said, "China and the United States should respect each other's choice of development path and each other's core interests."

Still, the joint statement expressed "concern" over North Korea's uranium enrichment program. Dialogue on human rights will also resume. Although it is a small step, we welcome it as a step forward.

There is a limit to cooperation among countries whose values and political systems differ.

Perhaps it is natural for a rapidly advancing major power and one that has maintained its position as No. 1 for a long time to become rivals. At the same time, the two nations are rapidly becoming increasingly dependent on each other.

Because the two countries have "a complex relationship," as Obama put it, with intricately diversified interests, the top leaders need to confirm common interests.

"China's peaceful rise is good for the world and it's good for America," Obama said.

It was Hu who came up with the idea of "peaceful rise." However, China is advancing its military buildup with the construction of an aircraft carrier. Its intention is unclear. China should show its determination to follow the path of cooperation with action. To maintain growth, a peaceful environment is indispensable.

If superpowers scramble for food and energy, global resources would become exhausted. There are many problems that cannot be effectively dealt with without U.S.-China cooperation, such as nuclear disarmament and global warming. We urge them to look to 30 years ahead and gather trust as superpowers in an age of globalization.


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