A new round of talks between the United States and the People's Republic of China has commenced in Washington. They are expected to last two days. While many will participate, including Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, much of the weight of serious discussion of economic policy and the future of the intertwined economies will fall upon Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan, China’s leading economic policymaker and the leader of the Chinese delegation. Also present will be Mr. Dai Bingguo, a state councilor of the People's Republic of China, and a top diplomat. Following the opening, the bulk of the talks will be held behind closed doors.
There are a number of issues, diplomatic and economic, being discussed at these Strategic and Economic Dialogue talks. Secretary Clinton spoke early on, stating, "Fears and suspicion linger on both sides of the Pacific." She urged a search for ways to "avoid misunderstanding and miscalculations." "Some in our country see China's progress as a threat to the United States. Some in China worry that America seeks to constrain China's growth — We reject both those views."
In recent months, in awareness of China’s ongoing intolerance of dissension, the Obama administration has given a high priority to the case for human rights. China, not a free country, but an ally of the U.S. in many important ways, has viewed the demands for democratization by student groups in popular revolutions in Northern Africa, and the Middle East. While compliant in the need for humanitarian aid, China has expressed displeasure and concern. What China tolerates in the Middle East may soon visit itself upon mainland China.
Vice President Joe Biden described a “vigorous disagreement” on these matters of human rights, and said the U.S. would continue to raise the cases of detained activists, journalists, artists, bloggers, and those who pursue freedom. Dozens of these dissenters have been jailed in China in recent months. China's top foreign policy official, State Counselor Dai Bingguo, gave assurance that Beijing had already made enormous progress in the matter of human rights. He made a clear and resounding point of inviting the people of America to come to China to visit and to witness the progress for themselves.