Military drills and currency on agenda

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 November, 2011, 12:00am


The United States' involvement in the Asia-Pacific region and Chinese currency reform are expected to top the agenda when President Hu Jintao and his US counterpart Barack Obama meet during the Apec summit starting today in Hawaii.

Hu will elaborate on China's stance on global economic policy, regional development and hold one-on-one meetings with the leaders of Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) forum countries. While the debt crisis lingers in Europe, analysts expect Obama to use the summit in Honolulu to intensify his focus on the fast-growing region.

The US has stepped up its presence in the region and some of its actions, such as a fighter-jet upgrade for Taiwan and military drills in the South China Sea, have upset Beijing.

Obama and American officials have recently reiterated that the US will not be leaving the region. US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta recently travelled to Japan, South Korea and Indonesia, and the Obama administration has also engaged North Korea and Myanmar in recent months.

Following the Apec summit, Obama will visit Australia before going to Bali, Indonesia, to become the first US president to take part in an East Asia Summit.

Ma Zhengang, a former Chinese ambassador to Britain and a former president of the China Institute of International Studies(CIIS), said China welcomed US involvement in the region, but there were concerns over whether the US presence would affect China's position.

'Some of the developments in the region triggered fears that the US presence is not mainly for economic gain, but also about containing China,' Ma said. 'Both sides do not want confrontations, and want to discuss how they can co-operate with each other.'

Professor Jin Canrong, a Sino-US affairs expert at Renmin University, said China is well aware that the US presence can help allay fears about China's development among countries in the region.

'But on the other hand, China also has some worries about the US and wants to discuss them frankly,' he said.

CIIS president Qu Xing said the two presidents will discuss solutions to the global economic crisis, and he expected the US will press China to allow the value of the yuan to rise more rapidly.

'As the economies in Europe, the US and Japan are not in good shape, how China can help tackle the financial difficulties and co-operation with the US in this regard will be a main concern,' Qu said. 'The US will link the appreciation of the renminbi to economic recovery.'

The US also wants to expand the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade pact, which calls for restrictions on government subsidies for state-owned enterprises, and to persuade all Apec countries to lower tariffs on environmentally friendly products such as solar panels to 5 per cent.

China, which has imposed an average 7 per cent tariff on 153 green products proposed by the US, says the two goals are too ambitious.