US President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao meet on the sidelines of a series of UN sessions, including the UN climate change summit. Ju Peng
NEW YORK: President Hu Jintao yesterday urged the US to look for ways to avoid potential trade disputes.
He made the call while meeting President Barack Obama in New York following friction between the countries over Washington's new tax aimed at imported Chinese tires.
Experts said occasional trade tensions will exist between the nations, but they said ties between them remain strong.
Hu said both countries should fight against protectionism while the global economy was in a slow recovery.
"The US action of imposing punitive tariffs is not in the interests of both countries and similar cases should not happen again," Hu told Obama.
The two leaders were meeting on the sidelines of a series of UN sessions, including the UN climate change summit.
It was their second meeting of the year. The first meeting happened on April 1 in London during a Group of 20 summit on the global financial crisis.
Obama told Hu the US supports free trade and strives to deepen bilateral trade and economic relationships.
"The US side is willing to solve bilateral trade and economic disputes through dialogue and negotiation," the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Ma Zhaoxu quoted Obama as saying at a briefing following the Sino-US meeting.
Obama decided this month to impose tariffs on tires imported from China, triggering concern about rising protectionism in the lead-up to the Pittsburgh G20 meeting, which is set for today and tomorrow. Obama ordered three years of tariffs on Chinese tires - with 35 percent in the first year, 30 percent in the second and 25 in the third.
Pang Zhongying, an expert in international relations at Renmin University of China, said yesterday's meeting would do little to ease trade friction. And he said the tire case will not be the last such dispute.
"The current US economic situation means that there will be a high level of uncertainty in US-China economic ties."
The national unemployment rate in the US stood at 9.7 percent in August, the highest in 26 years, according to the US Labor Department. Pang said the Obama administration will resort to protectionist measures in such circumstances.
Pang said China should also tell the US how it might respond to protectionist measures. Beijing can appeal to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in such situations, he said. China is currently appealing a WTO ruling against its restrictions on imported films, books and other audio visual material.
But despite the current dispute, Pang predicted there will not be a major crisis in bilateral ties between China and the US.
In his meeting with Obama, Hu said Sino-US relations had been good and he observed that the two countries were trying to fulfill the consensus the leaders reached in London.
Hu said he hoped the US could understand and support China's positions on Taiwan, Tibet and the riot in Xinjiang.
"All of them are of concern and interest to all Chinese people," said Hu, adding that a solid Sino-US relationship not only benefits both countries but regional and global peace and prosperity.
Hu told Obama he believed ties between the nations would continue to grow, thanks to high-level mutual visits, personnel exchanges and trade and economic cooperation at various levels.
Obama said the US would maintain a one-China policy and support China's actions in protecting sovereignty and territorial union.
Obama also told Hu he was looking forward to visiting China in November, which experts predict will accelerate Sino-US cooperation and deepen understanding.
"I think our relationship is dynamic, and through bilateral, regional and international cooperation, our relationship can be boosted to a new level," Obama said.
Robert Sutter, a professor in the Asian Studies Program at Washington's Georgetown University, said, during a speech to the Osgood Center for International Studies, that the Sino-US relationship was "a relationship of cooperation, but with enormous differences".
Even though both countries have differences in their approach to trade, Sutter said they want to keep the "equilibrium positive and stable".
"We are too interdependent," he said. The level of interdependency between the two nations is unprecedented. By 2008, the total trade volume between them reached $400 billion.