Care­fully For­ward

Threat­ened by a grow­ing and in­flu­en­tial China, Hil­lary Clin­ton con­sciously re­it­er­ated US com­mit­ment to an en­hanced part­ner­ship, be­fore em­bark­ing on her South Asia tour.

Southasia - - Contents - By Ayla Joseph Ayla Joseph is a free­lance jour­nal­ist based in New York, USA.

Be­fore US Sec­re­tary of State, Hil­lary Clin­ton em­barked on her whirl­wind tour of South Asia, she made a pit stop in Bei­jing to at­tend the fourth round of the US-China Strate­gic and Eco­nomic Di­a­logue (SED). This meet­ing came amidst the brew­ing cri­sis re­gard­ing blind lawyer and hu­man rights ac­tivist, Chen Guangchen. Chen, who was per­se­cuted by Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties for years, mirac­u­lously es­caped house ar­rest and took refuge in the US em­bassy in Bei­jing. Leav­ing only af­ter he had struck a deal with Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties to be re­united with his fam­ily, Chen left the em­bassy but soon changed his mind upon dis­cov­er­ing that his wife had ‘al­most been beaten to death’ af­ter his es­cape.

It is not clear whether the US will grant the fam­ily po­lit­i­cal asy­lum but Chen’s ac­cu­sa­tions and de­mands dom­i­nated the SED. How­ever, Clin­ton used her diplo­matic flair to re­it­er­ate the US com­mit­ment to raise fun­da­men­tal hu­man rights and stand by those who have suf­fered in­jus­tice.

Apart from this dis­trac­tion, the SED aimed to ad­dress strate­gic mis­trust be­tween China and the U.S. and in­tro­duce a di­a­logue be­yond bi­lat­eral is­sues such as trade with Iran and North Korea. Ac­knowl­edg­ing that a part­ner­ship, rather than com­pe­ti­tion, is in the best in­ter­ests of the U.S, Clin­ton stated, “We need this kind of open reg­u­lar mech­a­nism for strength­en­ing our part­ner­ship and man­ag­ing those ar­eas where there are ten­sions and dif­fer­ences. US-China ties are the most con­se­quen­tial re­la­tion­ship of the 21st cen­tury.”

The U.S and China are con­stantly at log­ger­heads re­gard­ing strate­gic is­sues, re­gional dom­i­nance and tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vance­ments. A re­la­tion­ship re­plete with mis­trust and ri­valry re­quires sen­si­tive diplo­macy and hon­est com­mit­ment. Clin­ton’s ef­forts to en­hance a part­ner­ship come in the wake of grow­ing US con­cerns over global hege­mony. In hopes to build a com­mit­ted part­ner­ship, the U.S guar­an­teed to not in­ter­fere in the out­stand­ing South China Sea is­sue, for which Manila has re­quested U.S as­sis­tance. As China moves to­wards a more mar­ket ori­ented ex­change rate sys­tem, it has in re­turn com­mit­ted to pro­vide greater pro­tec­tion and re­spon­si­bil­ity to US in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty rights as well as al­low in­creased mar­ket ac­cess to US com­pa­nies.

How far such ini­tia­tives will be fol­lowed is un­cer­tain but what is ob­vi­ous is that the U.S. is cer­tainly threat­ened by a grow­ing global power and is con­sciously try­ing to “build a re­silient re­la­tion­ship that al­lows both of our na­tions to thrive with­out un­healthy com­pe­ti­tion, ri­valry, or con­flict while meet­ing our na­tional, re­gional, and global re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.”

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