Don't expect surprises at S&ED
Updated: 2011-05-10 07:54
Expectations for this meeting are muted-perhaps a good sign as it shows a maturing in the US - China relationship. The focus has shifted to making methodical if slow progress rather than on resolving major conflicts or arriving at dramatic breakthroughs.
There are of course differences in the objectives of the two sides and different perceptions of what constitutes progress. This enhances the value of the dialogue even if there are few high-profile successes to trumpet.
The rhetoric on both sides has ratcheted down as progress has been made on some of the most visible points of tension. The currency issue continues to fester but recent developments have transformed this into a problem for the rest of the world rather than just for the US-China relationship.
However, there are storm clouds gathering on the horizon as more fundamental and contentious issues, with high stakes on both sides, come to the fore.
In the coming months, discussions on economic policy will be overshadowed by the political calendars in the two countries, which herald a gradual hardening of positions and less room for maneuver on both sides. This makes it unlikely we will see any major policy shifts in the bilateral relationship, unless dictated largely by domestic political and economic circumstances.
The two countries are increasingly dealing with each other on an even footing and recognize that collaboration is in their mutual long-term interests.
However, there lies a rocky road ahead as domestic economic and political priorities and constraints drive the short-term dynamics of this relationship.
Do not count on any surprises or major breakthroughs this week.
Eswar Prasad, Cornell University via e-mail
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(China Daily 05/10/2011 page9)
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