News Columns & Blogs

Pro-con on Obama's China visit

From the start, President Obama dispensed with China-bashing and declared the need for a strong bilateral relationship with China to tackle the many problems that confront the world, not least the economic downturn, climate change, nuclear proliferation and terrorism. His two Chinese-American Cabinet members, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, were among the first high-ranking officials to visit Beijing and begin the dialogue on collaboration. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's first trip after taking office was to China. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has also made an official visit, and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has been to China more than once. Obama's actions have brought results. China's Premier Wen Jiabao went to North Korea and came back to report that Pyongyang was ready to re-enter the six-party talks, subject to the United States being willing to conduct direct bilateral discussions. This is a refreshing change from the unilateral approach of the Bush administration. — George Koo, New America Media

Creating jobs for Americans is President Obama's top priority. Yet he left China with little to show in further opening the world's fastest-growing economy to greater U.S. imports. Perhaps Obama's three-day visit at least created enough good will with Beijing's tight-lipped leaders to later achieve his goal of reducing China's blatant discrimination against foreign firms. The president promised last September that the United States "cannot go back to an era where the Chinese . . . just are selling everything to us." More than three-quarters of the $400 billion in trade between the countries is one-way from China. But as old China hands like to say, "You don't change China; China changes you." And Obama seems to have fallen for many of the Communist Party's old excuses for selective protectionism. Even boosting U.S. exports by 1 percent to a country with 1.3 billion people would create close to 200,000 American jobs. — Christian Science Monitor editorial

  Comments