U.S., China face off

Visiting Chinese President Hu Jintao received a celebrity welcome in Seattle, as the West Coast state of Washington sought to strengthen its trade ties with the Asian country. 

But the meeting between the U.S. President George W, Bush and President Hu today won’t be a normal meeting between two leaders, says an editorial on The Independent. 

Although Hu’s four-day U.S. visit is expected to arouse trade disputes between the President of a large developing country and the chief executive of the richest nation on earth, the 63-year-old Chinese President and his wife Liu Yongqing were warmly greeted. 

This could be simply attributed to the fact that China, the world’s most populous country, has been undergoing speedy development and expected to surpass the United States economically in the near future. 

However, Hu got an early taste in Seattle of the protests which are expected to follow his tour. 

Groups gathered outside Hu’s hotel and the Microsoft compound, holding large banners and bullhorns to air grievances over China’s policies towards Tibet, Taiwan, the banned Falungong spiritual movement, the pro-democracy movement and suppression of free speech on the Internet. 

“Bill and Hu, Free the Web,” said one sign on the Microsoft campus. 

It’s noteworthy that China’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is tipped to overtake that of America by 2045, which poses a great threat to both the political and economic hegemony of the U.S., now entering a period of “managed decline” not unlike that which Britain has experienced since the end of the Second World War and the end of empire, according to experts. 

Shaking hands with the welcoming crowd, President Hu said “I’m very happy,” 

“I hope my visit … will strengthen dialogue, deepen cooperation.” 

There are 400 million fewer desperately poor people in China, since the country economy, which has already surpassed Britain and France to become the world’s fourth largest economy, began to open up a quarter of a century ago. 

But this peaceful development that China undergoes represents a great threat to the U.S. economy, as it risks it losing the political position it had always enjoyed as well as its role as global policeman. 

Washington believes that China, its third largest trade partner after Japan and Canada, can play a key role in breaking a deadlock in six-nation talks aimed at putting an end to North Korea’s nuclear weapons drive, according to Deputy U.S. Secretary of State Robert Zoellick. 

Asked about the stalled negotiations aimed at stopping North Korea nuclear weapons program in return for diplomatic, security and energy supply guarantees, Zoellick said: 

“What we are urging the Chinese to recognize is that they need to be more than a mediator”. 

“They need to be a participant that recognizes that they have an interest in trying to solve this problem and this relates to the nuclear issue and also relates to the notion of what sort of change and stabilitive change in the context of the Korean peninsula”. 

The North Korean nuclear crisis was among key issues to be discussed by U.S. President and the Chinese leader. 

In the run-up to the Chinese President’s visit, which will introduce Mr. Hu to the world, the Chinese released a number of key political prisoners; and offered an olive branch to Taiwan, albeit one that Taipei cannot accept; signaled better relations with the Vatican and offered hope that, Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader, may visit China. 

When the U.S. President visited China last November, the two leaders spoke quite frankly, however relations weren’t at all warm. 

Two-way trade between China and the U.S. in 2004 grew 400 percent from 2000, reaching 20.3 billion dollars, according to Sam Kaplan, vice president of the Seattle Trade Development Alliance. 

“If current projections continue, China will eventually be our number one trade partner,” he said. 

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