China can be neither ignored nor appeased
China's president paid his first visit to the White House and, in vague terms, pledged closer cooperation with the United States.
CHINESE President Hu Jintao's first visit to the White House required an impossible balancing act for the Bush administration, and the two presidents predictably found little they could agree upon. President Bush and his successors in the decades ahead will have to grit their teeth in dealing with the emerging economic powerhouse and its abominable record of human rights violations.
A protester who interrupted the welcome ceremony by screaming about China's persecution of practitioners of the Falun Gong religious sect added awkward perspective to the occasion. Neither the enormous success of the country's move into global economy nor its repression of individual rights and a free media can be ignored.
Governor Lingle and Hawaii business officials traveled to China last year in an attempt to realize the potential of leisure visitors among the newly wealthy. China is expected soon to exceed Japan in outbound travel, and its gross domestic product is predicted to overtake that of the United States within 40 years.
Bush appeared to focus on China's nuclear proliferation and Chinese leverage on North Korea to abandon its nuclear bombs. He also urged Hu to join the United States and European countries in imposing United Nations sanctions on Iran to halt that country's nuclear weapons program.
Hu continues to oppose sanctions on Iran and avoid criticism of North Korea. When Bush brought up the issue of Taiwan's independence, Hu referred to Taiwan as an "inalienable part of the Chinese territory."
The Chinese leader appeared more accommodating, although without specifics, about moving toward a market-based exchange rate for its currency. The current lid on the yuan results in cheaper Chinese exports, more expensive U.S. imports and a widening U.S. trade deficit. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., the House minority leader, points out that the trade deficit with China has grown in the last decade from $4 billion a year to $4 billion a week.
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