November 17, 2009
A Sino-American summit in Beijing has produced no breakthroughs, but vows of cooperation from the leaders of the two countries.
U.S. President Barack Obama spent several hours Tuesday in closed-door talks with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao.
The two met after a welcoming ceremony at the Great Hall of the People, where a Chinese military honor guard stood in formation as rows of dignitaries looked on.
The ceremony was formal and brief, leaving as much time as possible for a set of meetings with a full agenda.
There were no breakthroughs. Instead, there was a continuation of a process.
President Hu says they talked about everything from the global economy, to non-proliferation, to climate change.
President Obama said, with all that is happening in the world today, cooperation between the United States and China has never been more important. He said, “That is why the United States welcomes China’s efforts in playing a greater role on the world stage — a role in which a growing economy is joined by growing responsibilities.”
Mr. Obama says China’s partnership is critical in ending the current global economic recession. He mentioned the ongoing dispute over the value of China’s currency and spoke once again of the need to seek more balanced economic growth around the world.
In his prepared statement, President Hu never mentioned the currency controversy. But he did talk about areas of agreement. He says the United States and China are expanding cooperation in a number of fields, most notably in the promotion of clean energy.
President Obama says there can be no solution to the global challenge of climate change without the active involvement of Washington and Beijing. He also spoke about the need to work together to deal with Iran and North Korea and their nuclear ambitions.
China has played a key role in negotiations with the North Koreans and there were indications, leading into the talks in Beijing, that President Obama would seek China’s help in increasing
pressure on Tehran. He said, “Iran has an opportunity to present and demonstrate its peaceful intentions, but if it fails to take this opportunity, there will be consequences.”
However, while extolling the benefits of ties with Beijing, Mr. Obama made clear that when there are differences, he will speak up with China’s leaders. He talked about human rights in general, and Tibet in particular. The president said, “While we recognize that Tibet is part of the People’s Republic of China, the United States supports the early resumption of dialogue between the Chinese government and representatives of the Dalai Lama to resolve any concerns and differences that the two sides may have.”
After conferring with China’s leaders of today, Mr. Obama visited the heart of the nation’s imperial past. Like many first-time visitors to Beijing, he toured the Forbidden City — the vast compound where Chinese emperors lived and ruled for centuries.