Hillary Clinton to meet China

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton added a last-minute stop in Hainan province, China to her 13-day Asia-Pacific tour, the Foreign Ministry confirmed on Wednesday, after the US State Department announced the news earlier.

She is scheduled to meet State Councilor Dai Bingguo on Saturday, and they are expected to discuss economic issues ahead of next month’s Group of 20 summit in Seoul and the expected visit to the US of President Hu Jintao early next year.

The frequent and high-level meetings between the two countries seem to contradict the perception that bilateral ties have nosedived since the beginning of this year

Beijing and Washington have clashed recently over the value of China’s currency, US arms sales to Taiwan and US President Barack Obama’s February meeting with the Dalai Lama. So, this trip will help to ease the situation as well as will hopefully result in future good relationship between China and U.S, reported China daily.

Basically, this tour is designed to demonstrate US commitment to the region in a climate of, at times, tense relations between China and the US and some of its own neighbors. Both sides have many expectations for the future economic relations and also other important issues.

Analysts said that through frequent exchanges between senior officials of each side, either formal or informal, Washington and Beijing are looking for ways to ease tension ahead of the reported upcoming visit by Hu to the White House.

The last-minute decision to include China in Clinton’s Asian trip is also a sign that the US seeks to bolster mutual trust, said Yuan Peng, director of the Institute of American Studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, reported China Daily.

The US government had been criticized for initially excluding China from Clinton’s lengthy trip, especially when bilateral ties are under the spotlight. These informal bilateral meetings have become a new mechanism for Sino-US coordination. Both sides will definitely benefit from such interaction in addition to the Strategic and Economic Dialogues.

Until recently, the United States and China were making real progress on the currency issue. Since 2005, China incrementally has raised the value of the Yuan against the dollar by more than 20 percent, to 6.84 Yuan to the dollar, before holding the rate steady beginning in mid-2008. The appreciation in the Yuan’s value meant a more competitive edge for American exporters, but since the onset of the financial crisis.

The two sides are expected to hold discussions on critical global and regional issues, such as economic recovery, nuclear proliferation and climate change. These issues are of mutual interests to both sides.

After the Hainan Island stop, the U.S secretary will visit Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia in her sixth and most extensive Asia-Pacific trip.

* Iram Zahra is an international reporter at M4 Media

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