Interview: Upcoming Xi-Obama summit an opportunity to enhance China-U.S. ties: U.S. expert

2014-11-09 05:54:39 GMT2014-11-09 13:54:39(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

by Matthew Rusling, Zhi Linfei

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8 (Xinhua) -- The upcoming China-U.S. summit in Beijing will provide an opportunity for both sides to "get beyond the day-to-day tensions and disputes, and look a little more globally, regionally and long term" at their ties, said a U.S.-based China expert.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama are "committed to trying to move this (relationship) forward and realizing the benefits and mitigating some of the tensions," Kenneth Lieberthal, a senior fellow in foreign policy and global economy and development at the Brookings Institution, told Xinhua in a recent interview.

Obama is gearing up to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings and is slated for an informal one-on-one meeting with Xi. It will be their second meeting this year following their summit on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit held late March in The Hague, the Netherlands.

"The fundamental issue is how do we keep this relationship on a better path that serves the interests of both countries and serves broader regional and global interests," said Lieberthal, a former presidential special assistant for national security affairs and senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council during 1998-2000.

The two leaders can "articulate where the upside is of this relationship and where the two leaders are committed to trying to move this forward, and realize more of the benefits and mitigate some of the tensions."

Climate change is likely to top the list of important items the leaders of the world's top two economies will discuss. "It's an issue very high on Obama's agenda, environment and pollution is on Xi Jinping's agenda," Lieberthal said.

"We have the Paris summit on climate change coming up next year which is a major decision point for the global approach to climate change, and U.S. and Chinese positions and our capacity to cooperate will be a very important factor," he spoke of next year's Paris UN Conference on climate change, which aims to hammer out a universal agreement.

Other agenda items are likely to be counter-terrorism, a bilateral investment treaty, Iran's nuclear talks, denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, as well as the fight against Ebola, he said.

"I think overall the degree of distrust of long-term intentions of each side toward the other has grown palpably over the last year," Lieberthal said, citing recent bilateral disputes such as cyber security and an encounter of Chinese and U.S. naval ships in the South China Sea. But he said steps could be taken to mitigate that.

Indeed, there has been much progress on China-U.S. military-to-military relations, he said.

"That is one area where the relationship is expanding quite a bit over the past year," he said, adding that the Chinese navy for the first time participated in the U.S.-led Rim of the Pacific multilateral naval exercises.

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