Travel Diary: Strategic and Economic Dialogue Marks Another Step Forward in U.S.-China Relations

Posted by Jon Huntsman
May 25, 2010
U.S. - China Strategic and Economic Dialogue
Secretary Clinton Shakes Hands with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao
Secretary Clinton Meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao
Secretaries Clinton and Geithner Meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao and Vice Premier Wang Qishan
At the Conclusion of the Second Round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue
Secretaries Clinton and Geithner at a Press Conference

Interactive Travel Map|Text the Secretary|Trip PageAbout the Author: Jon Huntsman serves as U.S. Ambassador to China.

The past week has set us up for a successful bilateral relationship in the months ahead. After flying down to Shanghai to welcome Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and accompany her to the USA Pavilion at the Expo, I landed back in Beijing Sunday for three busy days of bilateral talks, including the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) May 24 and 25. Key leaders from our two countries -- half of the U.S. cabinet was here along with numerous other U.S. Government agency heads and senior representatives -- exchanged ideas about how best to coordinate action on global challenges such as proliferation, terrorism, economic recovery and development, global threats to public health, and climate change.

Secretaries Clinton and Geithner -- co-leaders of the U.S. delegation -- both told me they viewed the dialogue as a broad success. I couldn't agree more. This year's S&ED marked another positive step forward in our bilateral relationship. We laid the groundwork for boosting economic prosperity, creating jobs and enhancing the quality of life of people in both countries, something both governments desire for their citizens. Our meetings also covered areas such as market access for trade and investment, protecting intellectual property rights and promoting innovation in non-discriminatory ways, ensuring balanced and sustainable growth, and financial market stability and reform. We addressed security and proliferation in various regions of the world, as well as sensitive issues such as human rights and Internet freedom. We officially launched a series of measures to promote people-to-people exchanges and signed half a dozen bilateral agreements ranging from cooperation on infectious diseases to energy cooperation on shale gas.

Having a structured dialogue is critical to continued communication and understanding between our two countries. I look forward to next year's dialogue. Many thanks to my staff in Beijing and to all those who came out from Washington, DC, to make this happen!

Comments

Comments

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
May 25, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@Ambassador Huntsman,

I appreciate the success of your staff's efforts as reflected in the following answer given by the Sec. of State. The Chinese/S. Korean dialogue will be key to a holistic response that keeps the peace. If the peace can be kept, and North Korea has a vote on that.

If you are wondering how your fellow citizens might characterize the work involved, don't be surprised if I tell you that I believe you all to be in the front lines of the struggle of "the sane vs. the insane." It's nice to know the sane can put their differences aside and work together. Gives me hope it does.

Well done!
EJ

QUESTION: Good afternoon. Madam Secretary, what specific steps or measures did the Chinese agree to in terms of an international response to North Korea over the sinking of the South Korean warship? And does China’s apparent neutrality in this matter raise concerns with you about the role China is playing in regional security? Thank you.

SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, Mark, let me start by saying that we had very productive and detailed discussions about North Korea starting on Sunday night and going through today. The Chinese understand the gravity of this situation. And Premier Wen will be traveling to the Republic of Korea on Friday to consult with President Lee. Both Premier Wen and President Hu Jintao expressed their deep regrets over the loss of life that came from this incident, the sinking of the Cheonan naval vessel. We pledged to stay in very close consultation. I told them I was going to South Korea tomorrow for consultations with both President Lee and Foreign Minster Yu. And we will be reporting to the Chinese the results of our consultations and then we will be discussing with them the results of Premier Wen’s visit on Friday.

We expect to be working together with China in responding to North Korea’s provocative action, and promoting stability in the region. I think it is absolutely clear that China not only values but is very committed to regional stability, and it shares with us the goal of a denuclearized Korean Peninsula and a period of careful consideration in order to determine the best way forward in dealing with North Korea as a result of this latest incident.

I believe that President Lee has conducted himself in a very statesmanlike manner and he has put forth very prudent measures that he hopes the international community will pursue. And I look forward to consulting with both the Republic of Korea and China in the days ahead.

Flavius
|
Virginia, USA
May 25, 2010

Flavius in Virginia writes:

Well, now that we've mosty figured out how to coordinate with each other (I hope), let's come up with some solutions to which we can both sign on.

I think the bilateral between the U.S. and China is the most important of the twenty first century.

Let's hope we don't end up shooting at each other.

Good luck.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
May 25, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Flavius,

You're probably going to give me a hard time about this (chuckle), but I just had a dangerous thought; That right about now would be a really good time for the honorable Premire of China to pull a "George W Bush" on North Korea and give 'lil Kim 48 hours to pack his bags and leave the country.

It should come from the host of the 6 party talks directly, having the backing of the other four.

For decades NK has planned for an attack by the US and S. Korea, but never contemplated China would ever oppose them on the battle field, or ally with the US against NK.

Now the goal being to keep the peace, the thought of an imminient invasion by China would sure shake the confidence of any military leader in NK, and might bring 'lil Kim to his senses.

There's no guarrantees, and only by China's own realization of the danger posed by someone threatening nuclear war on its doorstep with the US and its allies will it ever see it to be in its own national interest to be willing to wage war to protect itself.

It's not we that pose a threat to China, it's having NK present no other option by it's threatening nature and the result of our response to further hostile acts.

China doesn't need the fallout nor the refugees resulting from such a conflict, and it's really hard to contemplate the results of China not taking a firm stand with NK now, way above and beyond what most "China experts" would contemplate.

If NK troops are faced with fighting the Chinese, there's a real good chance they'll flat give up without a fight.

With all the indoctrination against the US, to have those that once fought us invade them themselves would so unhinge their world view that I see a "bloodless takeover" and regime replacement therapy jointly conducted to reunify the Koreas in a cooperative international "intervention" possible without nuclear war or vast disruption of the peace of the region.

It's time to end this, otherwise we can expect to see this kind of thing continue till it gets totally out of hand one of these days.

My advice to the Chinese is this;

You want peace? Be willing to create it from scratch.

Be bold, and don't be slow about it.

Hesitation and the desire for peace that creates it in some cases will get you exactly what you do not want.

I believe this situation to be a case study in the making.

Flavius
|
Virginia, USA
May 26, 2010

Flavius in Virginia writes:

@ Eric:

I've given up on giving people a hard time now that I watch "Glee."

Seriously, I thought about a long, detailed answer to your "dangerous thought" and mulled it over for a few hours, but in just the past minute I realized that my best response is a question:

What happens to North Korea afterwards in your scenario?

I submit to you that much of China's and the U.S.'s strategy regarding North Korea has less to do with "now" than it does with "later."

Just as Stalin and Churchill were thinking way past the end of WWII even when the outcome was "somewhat" in doubt, the U.S. and China are doing the same regarding North Korea.

Food for thought.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
May 26, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Flavius,

Dude, you could patent that method of attitude adjustment...(chuckle).

What happens to North Korea afterwards in your scenario?

It was touched upon in this;

"..I see a "bloodless takeover" and regime replacement therapy jointly conducted to reunify the Koreas in a cooperative international "intervention" possible without nuclear war or vast disruption of the peace of the region."

When the US liberated France (twice) what did we do with it? We gave it back to the French with no bill for services rendered attached.

Now China has human rights issues, they know this, and they know how it effects our bilateral relations and they too know that a happy people is a productive people and they're looking to do right by their kids and future generations just like we are.

Two different paths to get there, but the goals are more alike than not. So, there's a good precedent they can draw from in how we treat the people of a country that has suffered under dictatorial oppression, after it has been removed from power.

The people of Korea have sought and desired reunification, the governments have sought it as well, one peacefully, the other by force.

If China were to ever have to seriously contemplate taking the steps outlined, it would need to know what its "exit option" was to leave N. Korea in stable hands.

So in being willing to "create the peace from scratch", the partnership between the regional powers and the UN along with the US work to bring the people of N. Korea and S. Korea together as one people.

All of this is based on a philosophy of keeping the peace in that recognizing that you don't give an agressor the war he wants nor expects, on his terms. But if it be war, to give him the war he is not prepared for, nor able to win, on your's.

Given the other options out there, this might not be so far fetched after all.

We both signed on to the notion in the 2005 UNGA that in some cases Soveregnity comes second to protecting populations, and if there's a time to invoke this, I can't think of a better one.

I don't know how far liberating the N. Korean people from tyrany might improve China's human rights record, but they do have an opportunity here to earn the lasting thanks and respect of the Korean people as a whole if they actually were to pull this off in actuality.

That would be up to them, and I appologize to the Chinese in advance, if they take insult in my suggesting it. None intended.

Flavius
|
Virginia, USA
May 27, 2010

Flavius in Virginia writes:

Once again, Flavius flubbed.

The question should have been: What happens in the REGION after Kim skedaddles?

This is assuming, of course, that the entire regime "shuffles off to Buffalo," including all the brood and the grand poohbahs of Korea's security apparatus. There are a LOT of those, and they all have a great deal to lose. They won't go without a fight, or a substantial bribe. Meaning each two bit colonel gets at least a small kingdom.

Ultimately, I think that maybe you're a bit overoptimistic with regards to cleaning house in North Korea. This isn't occupied France, or even East Germany. This is... really really ugly.

That doesn't mean that somebody shouldn't do it. Or that they WON'T. It's just terrifying for everyone concerned.

I wonder if the South Koreans can do it on their own, and if they can't, I seriously doubt the American people will endorse any substantial support for the rehabilitation of North Korea. We've done a lot of nation building lately. It ain't cheap.

That leaves the Chinese and the Japanese. And the Chinese are considerably more flush than Japan right now.

I wish I had time to go over all the possibilities regarding this, but I don't. There's this job, you see...

I agree with just about everything you said, but getting to there from here is going to be ugly and expensive and somehow, I think, the Chinese will be the ones who really benefit in the end. That is not necessarily in our national interest.

Undoubtedly you will hold forth on this subject much more extensively than I've been able to. Have at it.

Just wanted everyone to think about "unintended consequences."

Like when I prayed for rain and it did rain, only the satellite went out and I couldn't watch "Glee."

What a bummer.

Eric
|
New Mexico, USA
May 28, 2010

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Flavius,

As it turns out I heard some years back of a billionare out there willing to put up a 20 million dollar retirement package for any dictator of the world who would walk away from politics to enjoy early retirement. I supose folks can check and see if the offer is still good. I leave it to military experts to determine whether the psycological impact I spoke of would indeed sap NK's will to fight. Or their overall military preparedness for a conflict with China. Remember, I posed this whole thing as a "dangerous thought" precicely because it does entail risk. "No guarrantees" I said, "farfetched" it very well may be. It would represent a sea-change in Chinese foreign policy, one that would mirror our own with respect to the universal declaration of human rights and the concrete support for repressed peoples.

If all this takes place I can't even begin to imagine to what extent folks will be able to realize the national potentials in a peaceful coexistence, and I do believe the example set would serve to help resolve China's issues with Taiwan, in that the armed standoff would also end, and some understanding and trust replace it. For the US it means one less problem in the world for us to devote serious military assets to and all the expense that entails in a struggling economy. It strengthens the security of our friends and partners, China, Russia, and other nations such as India, who can look to China with a greater degree of confidence that it has now graduated as a responsible global player on the world stage, one that is on the up and up with the rest of the family of nations. But risky as relative to what? Is this means of solving the problem any more or less terrifying to populations than what the current state of affairs offers governments and peoples? I was thinking more like Burma rather than Buffalo, the winters arn't so harsh there. Frankly if we stuffed 'lil Kim and gang into a miget sub and used it to plug the leak in the gulf oil spill, I'd say that would be just fine with me, if that would plug it. Clean up two messes with the same "junk shot".

And you ask a very important question...All things being hypothetical and subject to the "art of the possible", I take it you are wondering what the military/political/economic ramifications for the region are, and they are integral and co dependant in their manifestations in a post- Kim world. On the macro level of international relations, precedent will have been set for the um-teenth time that it is better to nip little Hitlers in the bud before they become genocidal maniacs. Assuming for the sake of your question that this is accomplished with a minimum of bloodshed and disruption to nations surrounding in the region, I see a situation developing that in many ways would parralel the reunification of Germany, with all the issues associated with reintegration and creating a single government ( by extending the rule of law of S. Korea government in the north.) These would not fall under the catagory of "unintended concequences" for the challenges associated are known, and the variables may be anticipated.

I would have to say that if China and "the gang of four" -US, Russia, S. Korea, Japan- are in lock-step agreement that this is the best way forward under the circumstances, then we all stand to gain each other's mutual trust and respect if it is done right. In getting rid of the primary source of instability in the region and the nation building that must ensue on a cooperative level; the merits of "development, diplomacy, and defense" as a model for greater world peace and prosperity may be established without question, and the proof is in the making of it.

On a personal note, I was hoping you'd patent that "glee" process and send a demo to 'lil Kim for the purposes of conducting a social experiment to see if it had potential as some kind of viral infection. And when the universe tells you its time to start singing theme songs from Glee in the rain, pay more freekin' attention will ya? No need to be bummed out, just imagine the look on your neighbor's faces. (chuckle).

.

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