米中戦略対話 人権で摩擦の火種を残した

The Yomiuri Shimbun (May. 8, 2012)
Human rights issue causes friction between U.S., China
米中戦略対話 人権で摩擦の火種を残した(5月6日付・読売社説)

The fourth round of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue, held in Beijing, recently ended.

Ministers of the two countries discussed a range of issues such as diplomacy, security and the economy. In a joint statement, the countries vowed "to build a new model of bilateral relations in the 21st century."

The United States and China, whose economic interdependence has deepened, reiterated they would aim to play an important role not only in addressing global economic issues but also in achieving peace and stability in the international community.

Shortly before the talks, however, a diplomatic standoff arose when blind Chinese rights activist Chen Guangcheng sought protection at the U.S. Embassy.

The United States and China gave the impression that they even attempted to resolve the issue during the talks to prevent it from harming their bilateral relationship.

But this case has highlighted the fact that the two countries have flashpoints over human rights issues in addition to diplomatic and military matters.

The diplomatic standoff is likely to end, as China has indicated it will allow Chen to leave the country to study in the United States.

China is apparently aiming to fend off a growing domestic democracy movement by permitting Chen, who has become a symbol in the human rights movement, to leave China soon.


Washington needs patience

The United States and China agreed to hold talks on human rights issues this summer. But Beijing, which has called foreign countries' references to human rights in China interference in its domestic affairs, is unlikely to change its attitude. The United States therefore needs to patiently urge China to improve its human rights situation without compromising easily.

Issues concerning moves on the Korean Peninsula, such as prevention of an anticipated nuclear test by North Korea, and Iran's nuclear program--which were supposed to be the main focus of the talks--ended up being overshadowed by human rights. Such topics as North Korea and Iran were on the agenda, but the specifics of discussions on the matters are unknown.

China and the United States, both permanent members of U.N. Security Council, should take the initiative in blocking North Korea from carrying out another nuclear test.

During the dialogue, the United States and China also decided to inaugurate maritime safety talks this autumn as well as consultations on Asia-Pacific affairs in the second half of the year.

Disagreements between the two countries over the South China Sea are significant. The United States has called on China to maintain free navigation in the sea while Beijing has urged Washington to respect its "core national interests." Dispelling mutual distrust through a series of talks is vital for the two countries.


Dialogue has positive effect

Regarding the economy, the countries decided to resume negotiations on concluding an investment accord. China pressed the United States to ease regulations on high-tech exports to China. Washington agreed to look into Beijing's request, including the easing of such export control.

This platform of economic dialogue appears to have had some positive effect in reducing economic frictions between the two countries.

Meanwhile, ministerial-level economic talks between Japan and China have not been held since 2010, primarily due to Japan's political stalemate and China's objections over the Senkaku Islands issue. The Japanese government must restart and expand the talks as soon as possible.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, May 6, 2012)
(2012年5月6日01時15分 読売新聞)

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