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Sino-US rapprochment

Publication Date : 10-06-2013

 

No doubt the senior officials’ meeting between North and South Korea in the truce village of Panmunjom on Sunday was the most immediate and significant outcome of the two-day summit between US President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in California over the weekend. It was a big relief for major players in the Korean Peninsula although the Panmunjon contact was merely technical in nature.

Hopefully it will be much clearer now to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that he needs to be more serious in responding to China’s concerns over its nuclear programme, It was very unlikely that the Sunday meeting would have take place without strong pressure from Xi who wanted to make a significant concession to Obama.

As reported by international media organisations, the White House national security advisor Tom Donilon told reporters that both Obama and Xi found “quite a bit of alignment” on the North and that Pyongyang had to drop its dangerous nuclear ambitions.

The summit between the leaders of the world’s two largest economies was not designed to reach a formal decision because it was an informal encounter and because the sources of tension between the two countries — imbalanced trade relations, cyber espionage and China’s rising economic, political and military power — are very complex.

We describe the Obama-Xi talks as quite fruitful and constructive because the two leaders could develop deeper personal relations and they learned more about the difficulties of both sides. The economic interlinkages between the two countries, China is the world’s largest holder of the greenback, are so close that a difficulty in one country will also strongly impact on the other.

Xi did not become the darling of American media during his stay in California, but his relaxed appearance and readiness to meet with Obama not in the White House but in a desert resort in California sent a strong message to the world that the leader of the world’s second-largest economy is ready to have equal relations with the president of the world’s sole superpower.

Xi clearly realised that although China is second only to the US overall China is still a developing country, with its plus and minus aspects, and is now in the process of adapting itself to its new status by being more sensitive to its smaller Asian neighbours, especially those who have overlapping sovereignty claims in the South China Sea or East Asia.

The California meeting was at least successful in creating better understanding and personal trust between the two world leaders. And the success of pushing North Korea to meet with its neighbouring enemy was a major step forward for the Korean peace process.

 

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