6 Jun 2013

China-US meeting bodes well for region: China scholar

5:09 pm on 6 June 2013

A China foreign policy scholar says Friday's meeting between the presidents of the United States and China bodes well for the Pacific Island region.

The United States has refocused attention on the Asia Pacific and Professor Xiaoming Huang of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Centre says China is looking for clarification on US policy on the wider region.

He told Sally Round the meeting between Barack Obama and Xi Jin Ping heralds a new more personal relationship.

XIAOMING HUANG: The previous president of China, Hu Jintao, is quite a formal person in the way that I don't think he had a lot of that energy and chemistry come out of these formal meetings, at least from the Americans' point of view. So the Americans, and I think the Chinese, as well, this time have a very strong desire to know the country and know the person at quite different levels. And I think the important issue is the trust between the two countries.

SALLY ROUND: So do you think there has been a lot of posturing and that the pacific island region, and obviously further north, as well, has been suffering?

XH: In terms of this meeting, I think that will be positive. Often when big elephants are fighting the small countries will certainly be affected. So I think this is good in the sense that this whole formal summit's main function is to clarify and get an understanding between the two. In terms of what the two are doing and working together, it'll be positive, I think, for the countries in the region.

SR: How do you think China's foreign policy will change under Xi Jin Ping?

XH: That's actually a good question, and I think this is actually the point of this meeting, because there is a sense that the new president of China is different from his predecessors. And i think he's a more strong and tough-minded probably, no-nonsense person and can do things - not so much of these formal issues that we see between China and the United States, a lot of empty talk. So the summit that we have here provides that opportunity for both sides to know each other better, the person himself. The Chinese, in the past, has kept a low profile, made a lot of enemies, tried to focus on economic development. But, increasingly, we see the signs that China's resources are now more well-developed in terms of economic capacity and power, and China might become more assertive. That's a great change that people are observing, but whether that is actually the reality - fundamental change at the policy level and strategic level. The people want to get a sense of that at the highest level, and I think that's the whole point of this summit.