Archive for January 21st, 2011

Friday, January 21, 2011

Hu Jintao’s U.S. Visit: Vivid Micronisms

[Correction, Jan. 21: micronisms, read microcosms – JR]

Writing about Chinese Chairman Hu Jintao‘s state visit to America, Peter Lee, an Asia Times journalist who writes on East and South Asian affairs and their intersection with US foreign policy, complains about an avalanche of empty verbiage, courtesy of the two governments, their media enablers, the punditocracy, and the blogosphere.  Fortunately, he also finds himself in a position of extracting .. a few useful observations from the rhetoric and visuals surrounding the visit. China’s continuing effort would be to be  recognized by the US as an equal, even the leading partner in North Asian security, thus being in a position to sow fear, uncertainty and doubt in the hearts and policies of the smaller frontline Asian states that place their hopes in America as a reliable, permanent counterweight to Chinese economic and military encroachment.

Frontline Asian states such as Vietnam, South Korea, and Japan, that is – and in its own ways, Taiwan, the country editorialists must not mention in a frontline states context.

These things will matter in the region, and to the American and Chinese leaders, when it comes to international diplomacy, and to international affairs. Another bit – and one much more connected with everyday life in both countries – is business. This matters when Chinese leaders visiting America – or any foreign country for that matter – meet with Chinese nationals, overseas (ethnic) Chinese originating from anywhere (including South East Asia) living in such foreign countries, and non-political stakeholders, especially business people.

That said, business is the most important, but not the only factor in China’s international game. Possibly any people who might contribute to “non-governmental” contacts, including universities and schools, might play a role. These contacts are frequently referred to as 民间 (mínjiān) in Chinese, although it is paradoxical that one could have mere minjian relations with a totalitarian country.

Minjian relations were the vivid microcosms (生动缩影)*) Chairman Hu probably had on his mind when speaking on the last leg of his state visit to America, on Thursday (January 20), in Chicago. As directly or indirectly quoted by Xinhua (via Enorth), from Hu’s speech at a welcome dinner hosted by Chicago’s mayor Richard Daley:

[…] This trip to America has to end tomorrow, but the seeds of friendship and cooperation we are sowing today will certainly take root and sprout, and yield positive results.

Hu Jintao said, on this visit, I and President Obama agreed that both our countries must dedicate their efforts to establish a relationship of cooperation and partnership with mutual respect and mutual benefit.

Hu Jintao emphasized that establishing a relationship of cooperation and partnership was inseparably linked to strong support for mutually beneficial economic cooperation. In recent years, America’s central and western regions have seen rapid development of exchanges and cooperations with China, which have become vivid microcosms of the development of Sino-American relations. China wants to work together with America, unearth the potentials for cooperation in the fields of politics, finance, energy, environment, building of infrastructure, etc. China and America are both great trading countries, both of them are beneficiaries of free trade, and should perfect the system of global trade, promote the Doha Round, and set an example of resisting things such as protectionism.
胡锦涛强调,建设中美合作伙伴关系离不开互利互惠经济合作的有力支撑。近年来,美国中西部地区对华交流合作得到长足发展,成为中美关系发展的生动缩影。中方愿同美方一道努力,深挖财政、金融、能源、环境、基础设施建设等领域合作潜力。中美两国同为贸易大国,都是自由贸易的受益者,应该在建设和完 善全球贸易体制、推动多哈回合谈判、抵制保护主义等方面作出表率。

Hu Jintao pointed out that the building of Sino-American relations depended on the peoples’ of both countries broad support and their active participation. Young people are the future of a country, and the hope of the world. In the final analysis, the bright future of Sino-American relations depended on the young generations who would create it. In the hands of the young, the friendship between China and America would be carried forward and the torch would be passed.


Martin Klingst, German weekly’s Die Zeit correspondent in Washington, believes that Obama managed the balance between political differences, dependence on China as a creditor, and business interest quite well.

But how regional politicians and non-politicians manage the balance in their relations with China will matter, too.  An indirect exchange of arguments between Thomas L. Friedman and Ralph Gomory of last year highlights some strategic choices which actually apply in global trade more generally, beyond America and China.



*) 缩影 (suōyǐng), without 生动 (vivid, colorful – shēngdòng) can be translated as miniature, too. Frequently, parks and gardens are described as miniatures of greater landscapes – or of society. Hu Jintao was apparently in a cultivating mood: with Sino-American relations not at their best, it was time for some work on the grassroots (again).


Zhang Zhaozhong: “Asian Nato” looming, October 15, 2010
China-funded: Three Eight Hundreds, April 19, 2009


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