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U.S.

-China talks end without accords on key issues 10-07-02 4:53 AM

U.S.-China talks end without accords


on key issues
By John Pomfret
Wednesday, May 26, 2010; A09

BEIJING -- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and


Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner wrapped up
extensive talks with Chinese officials Tuesday without any
significant progress on Iran, North Korea or other key
issues dividing the countries.

At the second annual Strategic and Economic Dialogue,


Chinese and American officials signed seven
memorandums of understanding on issues such as shale gas
development in China and supply-chain security. But on the bigger issues, China did not budge.

Despite what Clinton termed "productive and detailed discussions" about the crisis on the Korean Peninsula,
for example, China has declined to accept the results of a South Korean report that implicates North Korea
in the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship March 26.

Asked Tuesday whether she had succeeded in pushing China to change its views, Clinton replied: "We had
very productive and detailed discussions about North Korea. The Chinese understand the gravity of the
situation."

China has increasingly shown its assertiveness on issues in Asia. That stance, along with the increasing
tension between the Koreas, could benefit the U.S. strategic position across the region, analysts say, as
countries such as Japan and South Korea draw closer to Washington as a hedge against China's newfound
strength.

Even former U.S. enemies such as Vietnam and nonaligned states such as Malaysia, which for years had
adopted a lukewarm view of the United States, have moved closer -- in part because of China's rise.

At the talks here, Clinton and Geithner were accompanied by a group of about 200 U.S. officials, including
four Cabinet secretaries; Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke; Adm. Robert F. Willard, commander
of U.S. forces in the Pacific; and experts on subjects including energy and education. Clinton called it the
biggest U.S. delegation to ever come to China.

Before the talks started, U.S. officials played down the possibility of major breakthroughs -- they spoke of
their hope for "solid singles, not home runs." But even by those standards, the results of the two days of
talks seemed thin.

On efforts to rein in Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program, Washington and Beijing apparently made no
progress in dealing with a disagreement over which companies would be hit with sanctions under a planned

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U.S.-China talks end without accords on key issues 10-07-02 4:53 AM

United Nations Security Council resolution. And when asked about whether China would allow the value of
its currency, the yuan, to appreciate against the dollar, a central goal of the Obama administration, Geithner
pivoted and praised China for its growth rate.

The talks in Beijing occurred against a backdrop in Asia in which recent Chinese missteps and trouble
between the Koreas appear to be benefiting the United States, halting what many in the region had viewed
as a strategic slide in American influence.

China reacted slowly to the sinking of the Cheonan, the South Korean warship, waiting almost a month
before offering South Korea condolences. Then, without telling South Korea of its plans, it feted North
Korean leader Kim Jong Il in early May, apparently offering him another large package of aid. China's
attitude enraged South Korean officials.

But more important, according to Michael Green, a former National Security Council official who was in
the region as the crisis unfolded, China's attitude toward the attack served to underscore how differently
China views the Korean Peninsula than those in South Korea or Japan. For China, keeping the Koreas
separate is a foundation of its policy, he said, whereas for South Korea and even for many in Japan, a
united, democratic Korea is the goal.

"It is a defining moment," he said.

Chinese missteps with Japan and the crisis between the Koreas have also helped to push the Japanese
government, which had been considering a foreign policy more independent from the United States, firmly
back into the American orbit.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, who leads only the second opposition party to run Japan in
nearly 50 years, announced he would accept a plan to relocate a U.S. Marine Corps base on Okinawa
despite a campaign promise that the base should be moved out of Japan. A day later, Hatoyama said a key
reason was the Korean trouble. But Chinese aggressiveness also played a role, Japanese officials said.

In April, Chinese military helicopters twice buzzed Japanese defense ships that were monitoring Chinese
naval exercises. And on May 15, during negotiations between Japan, South Korea and China, China's
foreign minister, Yang Jiechi, erupted at his Japanese counterpart, Katsuya Okada, after Okada suggested
that China cut its nuclear arsenal. Yang almost left the talks in the South Korean city of Gyeongju,
according to diplomatic sources, and screamed at Okada that his relatives had been killed by Japanese forces
in northeastern China during Japan's occupation of China during World War II.

Okada was shocked, a Japanese official said.

"He's always been a peace lover," the official said. "I guess the Chinese felt like yelling."

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