Tags: China | Hillary | talks | gains

Hillary China Talks Show Little Gain

Tuesday, 25 May 2010 09:51 AM


BEIJING — China and the United States wrapped up three days of high-level meetings here on Tuesday with some modest trade and energy agreements, but the United States made little progress on winning China’s backing for international measures against North Korea over the sinking of a South Korean warship.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said China would take “a period of careful consideration in order to determine the best way forward in dealing with North Korea as a result of this incident,” suggesting there was no immediate prospect of a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning the attack.

Mrs. Clinton tried to put the best face on China’s response, saying President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao had conveyed their sorrow at the loss of the 46 sailors on the Cheonan, which sank after being torpedoed by what South Korea says was a North Korean submarine.

“We expect to be working together with China in responding to North Korea’s provocative action and promoting stability in the region,” Mrs. Clinton said at a news conference after the meetings ended. “It is absolutely clear that China not only values but is very committed to regional stability.”

But Chinese officials did not mention North Korea by name during the entire meeting, and Dai Bingguo, a state councilor who oversees foreign affairs, called for the international community to “calmly and appropriately handle the issue, and avoid escalation of the situation.”

For his part, Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said that Mr. Hu recognized that moving China’s currency closer to a market rate “is an important part of their broader reform agenda.” But he noted, “This is, of course, China’s choice,” reflecting the fact that China is not likely to loosen the dollar peg on its currency in response to outside prodding.

The United States did get concessions on two issues of importance to American investors in China: a change in rules governing innovation that now disadvantage foreign companies, and a pledge to submit a revised offer to join the World Trade Organization’s agreement on government procurement by 2010.

The two countries also signed a raft of modest agreements on issues ranging from clean energy and shale gas exploration to trade finance between the export-import banks of the United States and China. They also agreed to cooperate on nuclear safety and on preventing infectious diseases.

With few major policy agreements, the United States and China played up the less tangible, personal sides of the relationship. Mrs. Clinton took part Tuesday morning in a ceremony to promote people-to-people exchanges. The Chinese government has agreed to help pay for 10,000 students to study for doctorate degrees in the United States, while President Obama has set a goal of sending 100,000 American students to China over the next four years.

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