Timothy Geithner gather for a portrait before a banquet for the Strategic and Economic Dialogue at the State Department in Washington on May 9, 2011. (Jonathan Ernst/Courtesy Reuters)
So, the title of my post is a bit misleading. The Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) was actually pretty much what I thought it was going to be, namely pretty tame stuff. Together, the U.S. and China identified a wide range of issues on which the two sides hope to cooperate. The range of issues, in fact, was breathtaking—or some might call it weird—everything from Sudan and North Korea to smart grid to the China garden project. I would guess that the China garden project will break ground before spring comes to North Korea.
The “no-holds barred” part of the S&ED came not at the S&ED itself, but rather courtesy of the U.S. media. First, there was a well-timed piece in the Atlantic by Jeffrey Goldberg, in which he interviewed Secretary of State Clinton. Although the bulk of the interview had nothing to do with China, Secretary Clinton’s remarks about China have gotten all the attention. Both Goldberg and fellow Atlantic writer James Fallows appear rather shocked at the Secretary’s comment that China’s human rights record is “deplorable” and that in holding off reform, the Chinese are on “a fool’s errand,” by “trying to stop history.” Goldberg likens Clinton’s remarks to those of the Cold War Reagan era. Fallows, in turn, implies that Clinton is reinforcing Beijing’s belief that the United States is trying to contain China and, in the process, acting outside the realm of traditional U.S. public diplomacy.
I have to say that I think the Atlantic duo is off-base here. Read more »