China-bashing on the table at Hu-Obama talks
Tammy Tam and Teddy Ng in Beijing
The leaders of China and the United State will discuss ways of avoiding upsetting ties during the US presidential election campaign, Vice-Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, says.
He told the South China Morning Post and other Chinese media in an interview that the two countries had become more mature in handling crises but that ties could still be undermined by the politicking ahead of the November election.
For this reason, Cui said, President Hu Jintao , who will discuss the global financial crisis and other economic issues when he meets Barack Obama on the sidelines of next week's G20 summit in Mexico, would also discuss the US election campaign.
The deputy minister gave an upbeat assessment of the relationship between Hu and Obama, who will be meeting for the 12th time, saying their past encounters had always run longer than scheduled. 'The leaders will discuss how to avoid any negative factors regarding bilateral ties caused by special conditions associated with the election,' Cui said.
'China is concerned that some US politicians will hurt Chinese interests during the campaign.'
The rhetoric against China has been quite fierce during campaigning, with candidates pandering to the anger of voters hurt by the downward trend in US manufacturing, raising concerns that positive sentiment over ties will be compromised.
For example, Republican nominee Mitt Romney has labelled China's leaders 'cheaters' and 'currency manipulators', and said that, should he defeat Obama, his Democrat rival, he would 'stand up to China on trade and demand they play by the rules'.
Cui said some politicians may 'politicise' trade friction between the United States and China even though the problem was caused by various factors, including the industrial restructuring of America.
Various politicians also criticised China on other international issues, such as nuclear proliferation in North Korea.
Cui said Beijing considered the US election campaign a domestic affair but nevertheless did not want co-operation between the two countries to be affected by 'unreasonable demands' raised by US politicians.
'Leaders of the two countries will give ideas on maintaining positive ties,' he said.
He added that China should not be blamed for US economic and unemployment problems and that the US had also benefited from co-operation with China.
Cui also said China will push for discussions about increasing the representation of emerging markets in international financial institutions and helping developing countries at the G20 Summit.
He said emerging markets and advanced economies both made important contributions to the world economy. But when it comes to voting, the advanced economies such as the US are still the major players.
'The representation of emerging markets in the International Monetary Fund cannot fully reflect their economic status,' Cui said. 'It is necessary for the IMF to carry out reforms.'
He said that advanced economies and emerging markets each represented half the composition of the G20, but emerging markets do not share same voting rights.
'It is necessary to seek ways to ensure that the opinion of both the advanced economies and developing countries are properly represented,' Cui said.
He said Sino-US ties remained positive this year following the visit to the United States of Vice President Xi Jinping , who is expected to replace Hu.
Also, the conclusion of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED) early last month saw both countries reach a series of investment and trade agreements, despite the talks being overshadowed by the flight of dissident Chen Guangcheng to the United States.
But he said China was well aware that the saga was an isolated incident that should not derail ties and that he had established a good working relationship with US Ambassador Gary Locke.
'The SED was not affected and could still run smoothly even after the sudden emergence of the Chen incident. This just shows that both sides are more capable of keeping their problems under control than previously,' he said.
He said that both countries were still exploring ways to build a constructive relationship as world powers, and had already reached a consensus that both regarded the other as an equal partner.
'It is easier for us to handle problems once we have reached such a consensus,' Cui said.
Cui called on the US Embassy in Beijing to focus on improving ties and expanding mutual common interests.
He also conceded that there was distrust between the two countries, and urged the US to respect China's core interests in issues such as selling arms to Taiwan and not miscalculating China's strategic intentions.
One such miscalculation concerned China's role in the Asia-Pacific, triggering fears that US leadership in the region will be challenged.
'China does not want to compete with anyone for leadership in the region. The worries of the US are unnecessary,' he said.