Trust still seen as issue in China-US relations

Updated: 2011-08-18 08:19

By Lu Chang (China Daily)

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BEIJING - More than a third of the people surveyed in a fresh China Daily poll said relations between China and the United States are very volatile while more than half of them believe the biggest hurdle is a lack of mutual trust.

The survey polled about 3,230 Internet users, with only 35 percent of those polled calling the bilateral relationship stable and 25 percent undecided about Sino-US ties.

The survey was taken between Aug 12 and 16, ahead of US Vice-President Joe Biden's visit to China at the invitation of Vice-President Xi Jinping.

The findings come after six months of political and economic disputes with the US over China's currency rate, the potential of US arms sales to Taiwan and disputes over territorial rights to the South China Sea.

Survey-takers were asked to choose among three major issues that they believe are creating friction between China and the US: trade, arms sales to Taiwan and a lack of mutual trust. More than half blamed the lack of mutual trust and about one-third pointed the finger at the looming question over Taiwan.

Analysts say both sides want to make good use of high-level exchanges and meetings to maintain close communication and find ways to narrow differences.

Sun Zhe, director at the Center for China-US Relations at Tsinghua University, said Biden's visit will stabilize bilateral relations, which were hurt by US President Barack Obama's recent meeting with the Dalai Lama and the recent news that the US will likely sell arms to Taiwan.

"The two sides will likely exchange views on issues such as the South China Sea, arms sales to Taiwan, China's military growth, US debt and the situations in Northeast Asia and the Middle East," Sun said. "But what remains more important is whether the US will take concrete measures when Biden gets back to the US."

Sun also pointed to US strategic mistrust of China as the biggest stumbling block in their relations.

"The two nations do not lack channels for military exchanges - what is absent is mutual trust and respect," Sun said. "China and the US have established several mechanisms for military communications, but the misunderstandings of two such powers make it hard to maintain peaceful military ties."

Jin Canrong, an international relations scholar with Renmin University of China, said Biden's visit to China will be "an important marker" in strengthening high-level contacts and increasing strategic mutual trust.

"The relationship between China and the US is mostly on-again, off-again. It is complicated, but it's probably the most important bilateral relationship for the global economies," Jin said. "Biden comes at a sensitive moment as recent events in the economic sphere have undoubtedly put the US economy and US currency on the agenda. He will probably express hope to gain support for the economy of the US and the world at large."

China Daily


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