[VIEWPOINT]U.S., China need their shaky friendshipThe U.S.-China summit meeting held in Washington last week was significant because it showed the changes in the international order in Northeast Asia. The atmosphere at the meeting was not as friendly as one between allies, such as the U.S.-Japan summit in 2004. Although the protocol was downgraded, the two countries discussed various issues from global ones to regional problems. This means that the United States has recognized China’s international status and its increasing influence in the international community.
As former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger commented, the meeting showed the world that the most important bilateral relations in international politics have shifted, from U.S.-Japan relations to U.S.-China relations. As a consequence, the U.S.-Japan alliance will, beginning with the realignment of U.S. forces in Japan, change to a partnership in which Japan provides military bases for the United States to use in its East Asia strategy.
In the summit talks, the United States raised issues related to the human rights protection policies included in the U.S. national security strategy report announced in March; the strengthening of alliances against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; the expansion of the market economy and free trade; the spreading of democracy, and the enhancement of international cooperation.
For its part, China has maintained the principle that it will promote a strategy of seeking stable growth by keeping international peace.
The discussions related to the Korean Peninsula confirmed the above principles.
The U.S. request that China exercise its influence on North Korea in the framework of the six-party talks to peacefully resolve the North Korean nuclear issue is just another way to express the principle that the United States and China should cooperate in the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and ensure the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Seen in this light, the effectiveness of the six-party talks as a solution to the North Korea nuclear problem, and support for the unification and democratic development on the Korean Peninsula, would seem to coincide with China’s interests and principles as reflected in the U.S. national security report.
But the U.S. financial sanctions against North Korea, an obstacle to the resumption of the six-party talks, are related to the effort to spread democracy and end tyranny, according to the national security strategy followed by the United States.
This raises the possibility that the second-term Bush administration, which succeeded in working out a joint statement at the fourth round of the six-party talks last year, will not try to quickly solve the North Korean nuclear problem, but put more emphasis on pressuring North Korea to induce reform, open itself to the outside world and follow democratization.
China will also stick to the position of preventing any outbreak of a chaotic situation on the Korean Peninsula ― such as a war or the collapse of the North Korean regime ― and provide economic support to North Korea to induce it to reform and open its doors to the outside world.
China’s strategy is in keeping with its priorities; maintaining peace with neighboring countries is in the interest of ensuring stable growth for China, if it is not possible to solve its neighbor’s nuclear problem.
At the same time China’s stance will enable it to claim credit for aiding the economic development of North Korea by initiating investment in the North, ahead of South Korea and the United States, while Washington hesitates.
Some observers and China experts call this U.S.-China summit the consequence of three no’s and eight insults ― no protocol, no friendship and no agreement, and insults such as not hanging the Chinese flag along Washington’s main roads, downgrading the protocol from that of a state guest and no action taken against a Falun Gong protester who disrupted President Hu Jintao, to name some ― but it should not be seen in such a way.
Although there were problems, the U.S.-China summit meeting has shown the world that the two most powerful nations must consult and cooperate even as they compete with each other in this complex and inter-dependent era of globalization and information.
At the center of the dialogue between the two countries ― over such issues as the value of the Chinese yuan, Iran’s nuclear program, the North Korean issue and the hegemonic rivalry between China and Japan ― is the fact that it is essential for the United States, with its huge deficits in trade and finances, to cooperate with China in order to continue to play a leading role in the new era, while bearing the burden of the costs of its war on terror and the war on Iraq.
Although there were no distinguished achievements, the U.S.-China summit showed that it is not war or confrontation, but peaceful solutions through international cooperation that lead to win-win solutions.
* The writer is a researcher at the Sejong Institute. Translation by the JoongAng Daily staff.
by Kim Sung-chul