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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ties to shape 21st century

Seeking a middle path is crucial for the world's future. It is timely and heartening that the shakened status quo (the US) and the rising (arisen, some would aruge, save for its growing domestic issues) power have come to this realisation, thought one may argue it's all just political rhetoric. They meet July 27th and 28th for the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) - a result of an agreement reached between the United States and China by President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao. Of course, it's always easy to focus on the major powers and forget the other elements that make up the rest of the differences on our planet. We're all on the same boat, really. The more we rock it, the more we're going to end up sinking. What we really need is to, if I may be allowed a simple analogy, build a great dragon boat team to steer us away from this spate of problems. Two sides to the boat, but all heading in the same way with the same heart.

The U.S. were quick to pick up on this famous Chinese analogy. I found this press release in the US Department of the Treasury website by Hillary Clinton and Timothy Geithner -

"...But having these strategic-level discussions with our Chinese counterparts will help build the trust and relationships to tackle the most vexing global challenges of today-and of the coming generation. The Chinese have a wise aphorism: "When you are in a common boat, you need to cross the river peacefully together." Today, we will join our Chinese counterparts in grabbing an oar and starting to row."

So. Here's the headline story from today's Straits Times. There is also coverage from Yahoo here, that had this very apt para - "Obama said that bridging the divides between the two powers - the world's first and third-largest economies - was now often a 'prerequisite' for finding global agreements." I recall a quote I enjoyed much when I was little. When given stones, build bridges, not walls. Well, there is some work to be done on China's end too, especially having emerged from millennia of wall-building (both physically and literally). We are, after all, the sum of all our parts.


Ties to shape 21st century
July 27 2009
Source - the Straits Times

WASHINGTON - US PRESIDENT Barack Obama on Monday called for broad cooperation with China to set the course of the 21st century, saying the relationship between the Pacific powers was 'as important as any' in the world.

Kicking off two days of in-depth talks in Washington, Mr Obama appealed for cooperation on a broad range of issues from reviving the global economy to fighting climate change, while also nudging Beijing on human rights.

'The relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century, which makes it as important as any bilateral relationship in the world,' Mr Obama said.

'That reality must underpin our partnership. That is the responsibility we bear,' he said.

In what appeared to be a coordinated new slogan, both Mr Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao, who sent a message to the meeting, said they sought a 'positive, constructive, and comprehensive relationship'.

'Our two countries should endeavor to expand common ground, reduce differences, enhance mutual trust and strengthen cooperation,' Mr Hu said.

Mr Obama, who is expected to travel to China later this year, has sought to broaden the relationship with Beijing which is now the largest creditor to the heavily indebted United States.

The dialogue revamps an earlier set of talks launched under former US president George W. Bush in 2006 that focused solely on economic issues.

But China, whose delegation is led by State Councilor Dai Bingguo and Vice-Premier Wang Qishan, said it would press the United States on concerns including over the safety of its more than US$750 billion (S$1.08 trillion) invested in US Treasury bonds. -- AFP

also -

TREASURY Secretary Timothy Geithner and Mr Wang both spoke of hopeful signs that the global economy was beginning to emerge from its worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Mr Geithner said that the so far successful efforts of the two economic superpowers to move quickly to deal with the downturns with massive stimulus programs marked a historic turning point in the relationship of the two nations.

Mr Wang said that 'at present the world economy is at a critical moment of moving out of crisis and toward recovery.' State Councilor Dai Bingguo said the countries cannot solve the world's problems alone.

'We are actually all in the same big boat that has been hit by fierce wind and huge waves,' he said of the global economic and other crises. China and the United States, he said, must 'try to cross the stormy water together as passengers of this boat.'

Mr Dai, speaking through an interpreter, noted that the countries are trying to build better relations despite their very different social systems, cultures and histories.

'Can we manage to do that? My answer is, we must work hard to make it happen, and, yes, we can - that is borrowed from President Obama.' He added in English: 'Yes, we can!' -- AP