Will Obama push China harder?
He's been critical of monetary policy and has named human rights defenders to key posts.
The United States and China will mark 30 years of normalized relations this week when Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte visits Beijing, highlighting strengthened and diversified relations between the world's superpower and its emerging giant.Skip to next paragraph
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Mr. Negroponte – standing in for Condoleezza Rice, who canceled her Asia plans to follow events in Gaza – will toast an evolution in relations under President Bush from confrontation to cooperation. But as the Bush years come to a close, the questions will be more about the future than the past: Can the positive trajectory in Sino-American relations continue as the two countries navigate a global economic downturn? And can improved relations continue as a Democratic administration takes office that may be more prone to pressuring Beijing on human rights and monetary policy?
Chinese President "Hu Jintao is not known for effusive displays of any kind, but when he gave President Bush a great big bear hug [at a recent Asian-Pacific summit], it was a sign of the strong feelings about how good this presidency has been for US-China relations," says Charles Freeman, an Asia and US foreign-policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington. "They feel they are going to miss Bush and are worried about the Obama administration on trade and other issues, particularly human rights."
China's concerns stem from positions that Barack Obama took during the presidential campaign, as well as from comments by some of his top foreign-policy advisers. Mr. Obama was critical of China's monetary policy and called on China to stop manipulating its currency, the yuan. Some economists see that manipulation as an effort to keep down the price of China's exports and to maintain growth in a shrinking global economy.
At the same time, China has watched as Obama has named some outspoken human rights defenders to top diplomatic posts. Susan Rice, Obama's top foreign-policy adviser during the campaign and a fervent advocate of pressing China on its human rights record and on its influence in Africa, is Obama's choice as ambassador to the United Nations.