300 deals reached at China-US dialogue

By Catherine Wong Tsoi-lai Source:Global Times Published: 2015-6-26 0:33:01

New ‘negative list’ to come out after Xi visit

US Secretary of the Treasury Jacob Lew whispers to US Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday at the Department of State in Washington, DC. Officials from the US and China participated in the seventh annual China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue to discuss bilateral issues. Photo: AFP

The nearly 300 economic and strategic agreements reached between China and the US during the high-level summit in Washington, DC on Wednesday reflect the multifaceted and progressive nature of Sino-US relations amid concerns over strained ties and security issues, said analysts.

Among the agreements was a new "negative list" with updated items to be released in early September after President Xi Jinping's upcoming September visit to the US. The list outlines sectors closed to foreign investment, and are part of the negotiations on a Bilateral Investment Treaty already seven years in the making.

Agreements reached in this year's Seventh China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) and the Sixth China-US High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange included some 70 items covering economic cooperation, more than 100 on the strategic track, and 119 on cultural exchanges.

 Speaking at the closing ceremony, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang said that during the two-day S&ED talks, the two sides conducted "candid and in-depth exchanges." 

Both sides discussed how to build a new type of major-country relationship, and to enhance cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region as well as globally, he said.

"The number of outcome items and the variety of areas they covered reflect the complexity and multifaceted nature of Sino-US relations, and proves the economic and strategic interdependence of the two countries," Zha Xiaogang, a research fellow at the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, told the Global Times.

The 'rule-maker'

The "negative list" to be reached between the world's two biggest economies has shown that the two countries are forming the core of the new model of major-country relationships, Zha noted, adding that China has evolved from being the "rule-abider" to "rule-maker" in influencing the course of international trade.

The two countries pledged to expand cooperation on the landmark agreement on combating climate change reached during Xi's meeting with US President Barack Obama in November 2014, including a five-year extension of the Clean Energy Research Center.

New cooperation areas were also discussed for the first time as officials from both countries held a special session on ocean protection under the framework of the dialogue, involving measures to promote maritime research, development, maintenance and protection, to expand cooperation between maritime enforcement agencies from both countries, and to combat illegal and unregulated fishing, among others.

The S&ED came at a time of heightened concerns that bilateral ties may have been strained over issues like the South China Sea and the establishment of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

Zha believes the meeting has offered a platform of communication in clearing up mistrust and misunderstandings so as to prevent the deterioration of bilateral relations.

"In areas like climate change, where there is no established order or predominant forces, the two countries can enjoy more space in exploring the rules and mode of cooperation under common interest," noted Zha.

For his part, US Treasury secretary Jacob Lew said the US would keep pressing China to move to a market-determined exchange rate, even after Beijing's commitment at the talks to intervene in currency markets only in "disorderly market conditions," reported Reuters.

Fundamental issues

Meanwhile, experts believe concerns over issues with fundamental differences remain, and that "expecting them to be solved in a two-day meeting is an unrealistic expectation."

US Secretary of State John Kerry said the US remained "deeply concerned" about cyber incursions, and that the country has "a strong national interest" in freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.

China's State Councilor Yang Jiechi said the two countries should work together on cyber security and called on Washington to be "impartial and objective" when it comes to the South China Sea.

"The growing number of agreements this year has proven that the mechanism of the dialogue has matured over the last seven years of development. The meeting this year is also critical in paving the way for Xi's upcoming talk with Obama in which more important and concrete results will be announced," Liu Weidong, an expert on US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

But he said long-term differences cannot be solved overnight, as "the purpose of this meeting serves more to seek consensus than to resolve conflicts."

"But the meeting is still critical in showing the two countries' active and open attitude," he said.

Reuters contributed to this story

Posted in: Diplomacy

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