CHINA / National

Hu's US visit will help build mutual trust
Updated: 2006-04-17 08:52

Chinese President Hu Jintao will travel to the United States this week aiming to build trust and convince Washington that China's rise is not a threat.

"We hope this visit can push forward both sides to look closely at the importance and necessity of developing Sino-US relations from a strategic and long-term perspective," Vice Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told reporters in a briefing Friday.

Chinese President Hu Jintao will travel to the United States this week aiming to build trust and convince Washington that China's rise is not a threat.(AFP
Chinese President Hu Jintao will travel to the United States this week aiming to build trust and convince Washington that China's rise is not a threat. [AFP]
The April 18-21 trip, Hu's first visit to the United States as president, will take him to the Boeing and Microsoft plants in Seattle and then to Washington where he will hold a summit with President George W. Bush and meet with US politicians and business leaders.

While trade and world affairs will likely dominate discussions, the two nations will also grapple with what kind of relationship they want to build at a time when distrust mixes with a recognition of the need to work together.

The trip comes as the world's largest economy and its biggest developing country face growing trade disputes, especially over China's currency.

Washington believes the yuan is undervalued, giving Chinese exports an unfair advantage and contributing to its record trade deficit with Beijing.

US senators have postponed but still threaten a vote on a bill to impose tariffs on Chinese exports unless Beijing reforms its currency regime.

China, with its export-oriented economy, will try to convince the United States, its second-largest trade partner, to keep buying Chinese goods, while allowing China to buy what it wants -- high-tech US products -- and to make investments in the US to narrow the trade gap, analysts said.

More importantly, Hu will seek to dispel US fears of China's rising might, by reassuring Washington that Beijing is a responsible global partner.

"China believes mutual trust is lacking and that is at the root of tensions between the two countries, be it trade, military spending or human rights," said Tsinghua University analyst He Maochun.

"It believes the United States still views China from a Cold War perspective and that it sees China as a threat. China meanwhile is suspicious the US wants to contain China."

The United States for its part will urge Beijing to increase the value of its currency, further open its massive and lucrative market to US companies and products, and crack down on piracy to reduce the record 202 billion dollar deficit, analysts said.

It would also request help from Beijing, one of five permanent members on the UN Security Council, to deal with international issues, including the nuclear standoffs with Iran and North Korea and the humanitarian crisis in Sudan, they said.

Eager to fend off pressure, China preceded Hu's visit with a US shopping spree last week, signing contracts worth 16.2 billion dollars, including the purchase of 80 Boeing aircraft.

This could persuade US politicians to stop beating on China, at least for now, said Paul Harris, a Sino-US relations expert at Hong Kong's Lingnan University.

"Money talks," said Harris. "They're targeting the spending in the industries and geographic constituencies that really matter."

There is also speculation that Beijing may widen the trading band for the yuan, which appreciated only slightly following a 2.1 percent revaluation under pressure from the US last July.

On Taiwan, Yang indicated Friday Hu will seek further reassurance from Bush that the US will discourage Taiwanese "president" Chen Shui-bian from pushing his pro-independence agenda.

"We hope that the United States ... will not send any wrong signals to Taiwan secessionist forces," Yang said.

As a rapidly-growing China scours for energy in traditional US spheres of influence including Latin America, raising US eyebrows, Yang said China also wants to discuss ways to cooperate with the United States on energy, adding there were "opportunities" to work together.

Chinese officials expressed optimism about the trip, but analysts were less hopeful.

"The differences won't be narrowed, but the two countries could find more channels to resolve their differences and will have more experience in solving future problems," He said.


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