Talks focus on partnership

Updated: 2012-09-06 02:16

By Wu Jiao and Qin Zhongwei (China Daily)

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Hectic day of meetings with leaders will help ease tensions, experts say

Beijing and Washington were upbeat on Wednesday, despite divisions over a number of issues, as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton focused on partnership during high-level meetings in what might be her last official visit to the country.

Clinton met President Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang and State Councilor Dai Bingguo on Wednesday before flying to Brunei early on Thursday.

The visit, less than 30 hours long and part of a six-nation Asia tour, saw Clinton engaged in late night talks with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi after her arrival on Tuesday.

During her brief stay Clinton stressed partnership with China on world issues and sidestepped questions on US Asia-Pacific strategy.

Analysts said that the trip will make Beijing and Washington more aware of each other's positions on various issues.

This will help lower tension at a time when China-US differences have been emphasized amid domestic and regional political changes, experts said.

The New York Times said that the contrast between a barrage of unusually harsh coverage in China over US meddling in territorial disputes in the region and a strikingly warm welcome by Yang underscored a complicated and often fraught relationship that both countries, nevertheless, appear intent to maintain despite serious differences over foreign policy, trade and human rights.

Clinton, on her seventh and possibly last official trip to China if she honors a promise of not seeking a second term, arrived in Beijing late on Tuesday night. Talks were held with Yang well into early Wednesday morning.

"I'm very proud of the strength and resilience that we have built into our relationship," she said after talks with President Hu on Wednesday morning.

"It makes it possible for us to talk about anything, and to find ways to tackle issues frankly and forthrightly,'' Clinton said, adding that the two sides would not see eye-to-eye on all the issues that are part of their relationship.

Media reports noted that Clinton's visit comes as the government and public show increasing skepticism of heightened US engagement in Asia.

President Hu urged both countries to ensure that ties stayed on the right track.

Premier Wen also urged the US to play a constructive role in the Asia-Pacific region.

Clinton declined to comment directly on the Asia-Pacific issue in public and she avoided a direct answer to a question posed by China Daily.

US: 'Both can be frank with each other'

Asked whether the fundamental goal of the US Asia-Pacific strategy shift was about containing China, Clinton spent more than 10 minutes emphasizing the strength of US-China ties and cooperation with China on world issues.

Reuters also said the two countries, despite deep divisions on Syria, the South China Sea and other global hotspots, were upbeat and stressed the importance of steady ties as they navigate political transitions.

Sun Zhe, a professor on American studies at Tsinghua University, said that in the past 10 years both countries have managed a mature way to communicate and they can be frank with each other.

Pang Zhongying, an expert on international affairs with Renmin University of China, said Clinton had mapped out an Asia-Pacific strategy but ties are too complicated to be placed neatly into that strategy.

China-US cooperation has grown significantly during Barack Obama's term in office, and this may have been forgotten recently, Pang said.

The Washington Post said that throughout her tenure, Clinton has been one of the principal forces shaping and carrying out the administration's sometimes controversial Asia policy.

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