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[Opinion] Mr. Hu Goes to Washington

Posted April. 18, 2006 03:01,   


“Chinese President Hu Jintao will make state visits to five countries: the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Nigeria, and Kenya.” An official government website article posted on April 11 will make you believe that Hu will make a state visit to the U.S. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China announced the president’s visit as a state visit last month. The U.S. begs to differ, however. The U.S. says that Hu’s visit is not a state visit. It seems that in return for refusing the state visit that China wanted, the U.S. decided to let China state Hu’s visit as a state visit.

During President Hu’s first visit to the U.S. since he was sworn in as head of state in 2003, he will receive a state luncheon, not a state dinner. There will be no gorgeous costumes, welcoming address with flowery words, or graceful scene of cheers. China won’t be able to show the president’s warm reception in the U.S. to 1.3 billion Chinese people who value dignity. The U.S. is not oblivious to this. The New York Times said, quoting a Chinese scholar, “President Bush does not want to see the Chinese to be too happy.”

Summit meetings have special meanings not only for the bilateral relationship of the nations but also for domestic politics. This summit talk is where the U.S., with its hegemony of the world, and emerging China, with the potential to overtake the U.S. at any time in the future, establish their relations. The two leaders happen to be in uncomfortable positions within domestic politics. In the run-up to the November mid-elections, President Bush should allay voters who believe China is taking jobs away while President Hu should show equally strong leadership as Bush with next year’s National People’s Congress in mind.

In the past, emerging countries, like Germany and Japan, achieved economic growth and ended up waging wars. That is why the U.S. is wary of China despite its claim that it wants to peacefully rise to power in the world. Fortunately, the two countries know that they are in close economic relations, which is reminiscent of the past when the U.S. and Soviet Union could avoid a nuclear war because they knew about nuclear issue well. The outcome of the summit talks can influence the world order in the 21st century.

Kim Soon-deok, Editorial Writer, yuri@donga.com