BEIJING - Landmark trade talks between China and
the United States concluded in Beijing on Friday, reflecting the increased
interaction between the two countries this year, albeit against a backdrop of
"China and the United States have never been closer in their understanding of
what form their diplomatic relationship should take," said Tao Wenzhao, a
research fellow in American Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Chinese President Hu Jintao made his intentions clear during his state visit
to the United States in April. "Sharing extensive and important common strategic
interests, our nations should be not only stakeholders, but also constructive
cooperators," Hu said at the time.
In response, U.S. President George Bush acknowledged that the Sino-U.S. trade
relationship had "become even stronger".
Several inaugural events served to strengthen relations between China and the
United States in 2006.
The administrator of National Aeronautics and Space Administration of the
United States Michael Griffin visited China to boost Sino-U.S. space cooperation
this September, the highest-ranking U.S. space official to visit China in the
last 12 years.
Two months later, the navies of China and the United States held their first
ever joint search-and-rescue exercise on the South China Sea.
New records have also been set in the economic sector. China is now the
United States' third largest trading partner and its fastest-growing exports
market. In the first ten months of this year, the trade volume between the two
countries reached nearly 214.52 billion U.S. dollars, with U.S. exports to China
up by 23.8 percent, the first step towards reducing the huge trade imbalance
between the two countries.
The two countries also conducted dialogue to try and deal with international
issues, particularly after the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's nuclear
The Bush administration also reiterated their adherence to the one-China
policy and their opposition to Taiwan independence.
"China and the U.S. are building a two-way relationship based on common
interests," said Yuan Peng, a U.S. studies expert with Beijing University.
"Many exchanges have occurred in scientific, cultural and military fields
which showed that Sino-U.S. ties are developing soundly, something which used to
be achieved only through top-level exchanges," Yuan said.
However, trade frictions have hindered the strengthening of relations between
the two countries.
China's soaring exports have sparked trade rows over a number of Chinese
products including textiles, shoes, televisions and auto parts. The Ministry of
Commerce said 23 countries and regions, including the United States, launched 70
anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations against China in the first three
quarters of the year.
But Yuan was keen to play down the impact of the disagreements. "Looking at
the whole picture of the improvement of the Sino-U.S. ties, trade friction is
natural," he said.
The victory by the Democrats in the U.S. mid-term elections in November
provoked some commentators to cast doubts over the future development of
But Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao quelled the concerns, telling visiting U.S.
Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez that he realized the development of
China-U.S. relations had always been "the consensus of the Democrats and
Republicans of the United States as well as the two peoples".
A direct flight from Beijing to Washington will be inaugurated in 2007 and it
is highly symbolic. Next year marks the 35th anniversary of Richard Nixon's
ice-breaking visit to China, and reaching further consensus on trade issues will
be crucial for both nations.