Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bader and Steinberg Journey to Beijing

Last week Obama Administration officials Jim Steinberg and Jeff Bader visited Beijing to discuss Czechoslovakia Taiwan with Berlin Beijing. The US state department said....
Deputy Secretary of State Jim Steinberg, along with the Senior Director for Asian Affairs Jeff Bader, are now in Tokyo for meetings with senior officials of the Japanese Government. In Beijing, they had talks with senior PRC officials, including Foreign Minister Yang and State Councilor Dai. The U.S. and PRC agreed on the high importance each attaches to the relationships and their commitment to building a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship. The two sides engaged in an in-depth exchange of views on issues of mutual concern, and they look forward to working together constructively to address these issues. In particular, the U.S. raised concern over Iran’s and North Korea’s nuclear programs, economic, trade and market access issues, and climate change.

The U.S. responded to PRC’s concerns over Taiwan by reiterating that it has followed a consistent approach, pursued by both administrations of both political parties on a one-China policy, adherence to the three joint communiqu├ęs in the Taiwan Relations Act, and expectations of a peaceful resolution of the differences across the strait.

Mr. Steinberg and Bader indicated a willingness to try to work together with China to bridge differences and deepen cooperation on areas of common interest.


QUESTION: Can we follow up on (inaudible). Follow-up on Steinberg’s – Jim Steinberg’s trip to China, you mentioned that there were concerns raised about Iran, North Korea, and climate change. Did you get the sense that there was any forward movement on any of those issues from the Chinese side?

MR. CROWLEY: As we’ve said before, we came into this conversation with different – maybe a shared overall goal. I don’t think an arms race in the Middle East is in anyone’s interest. We do come at it from different vantage points regarding the utility of sanctions, and this is a conversation that we will continue to have with China in the weeks ahead.

QUESTION: Also on China, they announced a military budget which is a bit less than in previous years. Does this respond to U.S. concerns at all? Does this meet the U.S. concerns about a lack of transparency? Is there any reaction to --

MR. CROWLEY: I haven’t – I’ll probably defer to my colleagues over at the Pentagon. It is an issue that we have raised in the past, but I’ll defer to them to characterize it.

QUESTION: On the same visit with Mr. Steinberg, did the Chinese raise any concerns about the recent visit of the Dalai Lama to the White House?

MR. CROWLEY: I do not know. It would not surprise me.

QUESTION: But you don’t know that it came up?

MR. CROWLEY: I don’t know.
Foreign Policy, which seems to be improving week by week, had a good blogpost up at The Cable which cited the usual suspects at CSIS, Bonnie Glaser and Charles Freeman. It noted:
When top Obama administration officials went to Beijing last week, they had a broad agenda for discussion, including Iran, climate change, and North Korea. What did the Chinese want to talk about? Taiwan, Taiwan, and Taiwan.

Several China experts close to both sets of officials said that Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and National Security Council Senior Director Jeffrey Bader went to China with the understanding that they would have substantive discussions on some key issues of U.S. interest, but the Chinese side used the opportunity to try to bargain for an end to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, something Beijing has wanted for decades and now feels bold enough to demand.

"It was all about Taiwan," said Bonnie Glaser, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), "The message that the Chinese are giving us is ‘We've had enough; we're fed up. We've been living with this issue of U.S. arms sales for too long and it's time to solve it.'"

The Obama team has been noticing increased confidence on the Chinese side when dealing with the United States, and some officials see that as partly a result of the rise of hard-liners within the Chinese system who advocate a tougher stance toward Washington.
The Nelson Report, the Washington insider report, said of the visit:
"Chinese officials continue to present a skewed version of the Steinberg/Bader visit last week...they continue to encourage the blogosphere to paint the pair as coming to kow-tow, even to apologize for Obama's recent decisions on Taiwan arms and receiving the Dalai Lama.

The latest jab is to imply that Bader and Steinberg tried to "put the blame on Congress" for the decisions...thus denying the fundamental foreign policy and "China management" issues involved."
In the last sentence, Nelson refers to a China Daily report that had Bader and Steinberg blaming Congress and saying that the whole thing was out of their hands. Perhaps it is true, but it is just as likely to be disinformation aimed at Beijing's own domestic audience....

Just another week in China's relations with the world: a Uighur exile was jailed in Sweden for spying for China, downstream from China's dams other countries are complaining about reduced water supplies, and China is pretending to its own people that the US is kowtowing. This Foreign Policy piece argued that China's response to the arms sales to Taiwan and Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama is confused, and in part is driven by its vibrant and highly nationalist online community -- Beijing has been stoking that nationalism for years, so it shouldn't be surprised that it is now becoming irascible and difficult to control.
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1 comment:

Marc said...

Are Bader and Steinberg supposed to be Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (Ref Tom Stoppard's couple, not Shakespeare's)?

R&G were two minor characters in Hamlet who were sent by Claudius
who asked them to ascertain Hamlet's problem by "...draw[ing] him on to pleasures, and to gather,
So much as from occasion you may glean,
Whether aught, to us unknown, afflicts him thus,
That, open'd, lies within our remedy.

Like Tom Stoppard's play about R&G, Bader and Steinberg seemed surprised that the obsessed and haunted Hamlet-China only wanted to talk about Taiwan.