Move part of bid to smooth strained ties, World Journal reports
BEIJING: The US is likely to postpone the release of its annual report on China's military power in a bid to smoothen strained ties with Beijing, the US-based World Journal has reported.
The Journal, citing sources within the US Congress, on Tuesday said that the report may be delayed until May, to pave the way for President Hu Jintao's likely visit to Washington in April to attend a global nuclear security summit.
US' Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and Senior White House adviser for Asian affairs Jeffrey Bader are currently in Beijing on a trip that some analysts have said is aimed at mending patchy Sino-US ties.
The report on China's military might is a publication of the US Department of Defense (also known as the Pentagon) and provides an appraisal of Beijing's military power and strategy. It has been annually proposed to the US Congress some time around March since 2001, and has always angered Beijing.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said earlier that the nation has been preparing for the summit and is in consultation with other parties.
The World Journal also reported that the US Treasury Department too may delay the publication of a report on the international economy and exchange rate policies, scheduled for April, until after Hu's likely trip, in order to assuage Chinese concerns on the prickly issue of exchange rates.
Of late, there have been some low-key interactions between Beijing and Washington aimed at hauling the relations back on track following frictions over trade, Tibet, Google's intention to exit the Chinese market and US arms sales to Taiwan.
The US said on Tuesday that it expected more top-level dialogue with China in the coming months as Beijing has proposed to Washington a date for the next round of strategic and economic dialogue.
AFP quoted US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley as saying the dialogue is likely to occur in the next few months. According to an earlier agreement, the next round of the talks would take place in Beijing.
Steinberg and Bader are currently in Beijing for talks, but few details have been given about the US envoys' visit, although the Americans would definitely meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi and other leaders. The visit is scheduled to run through Thursday.
According to Crowley, the tour has raised hopes in Washington that relations with China will persevere through a rough patch.
"If this suggests that we are refocusing on the future and the important issues that we can work on together, I think we are encouraged by this," Crowley said.
The Wall Street Journal published a story, noting the trip by US senior diplomats is the latest sign of a thaw between the two nations following a series of controversies that had put bilateral relations on ice.
As Steinberg's visit has come during the opening of the NPC and CPPCC annual meetings, a time when domestic affairs take precedence over foreign relations, some analysts believe the Sino-US relations have entered a critical phase and cannot be pushed back any more.