Hope for a peaceful voyage

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Hope for a peaceful voyage

The latest U.S.-China summit was a coronation of sorts: China finally received the recognition it craves as the superpower it has become. U.S. President Barack Obama rolled out the red carpet for his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, with the highest respect. China has emerged as a superpower on par with the U.S. - 32 years after the two nations established diplomatic relations.

The joint statement by the leaders is nothing but a nautical chart for both sides to navigate the turbulent waters of the second decade of this century. Though the two shared a mutual understanding on many issues, there were disagreements as well. We hope that both will go on a peaceful voyage based on mutual respect and reciprocity.

In the statement, Obama said that the U.S. government “welcomes that a prosperous and successful China has been playing a big role on the international stage.” Hu returned Obama’s compliment by saying that the U.S. “contributes to the peace, stability and prosperity” of the Asia-Pacific region.

Both vowed to cooperate on bilateral issues - such as those in the political, economic and military spheres - and on global issues involving climate change, energy, the environment, anti-terrorism and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

But they showed sharp disagreements on issues like human rights and exchange rates. While Obama stressed the importance of human rights and democracy, Hu rebutted him by arguing that U.S. interference in China’s domestic affairs should not be allowed.

Although the Korean Peninsula was one of the major agenda items, both leaders stopped short of presenting a concrete solution by merely underscoring the need to break the current South-North stalemate and start constructive dialogue. Both leaders, however, didn’t mention the North’s sinking of our Cheonan warship or the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island.

Both leaders’ emphasis on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and their worries about the North’s uranium enrichment program is a positive sign, as it may soon lead to a resumption of the six-party talks. This also suggests that the U.S. and China will put pressure on South Korea and North Korea to start a dialogue.

But we cannot just sit back. Though we may need more time until the North shows goodwill, we need to think about whether simply waiting for an apology is really the best policy.
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