U.S.-China relationship isn’t the most vital one – Howard French

From the International Herald Tribune (link):

What’s the most important international relationship? An easy case could be made for China’s ties with the United States, but that would be the wrong guess, at least now. The recent visit to Washington by President Hu Jintao of China lent proof to an increasingly glaring fact: This immensely important relationship is vastly underperforming its potential.

With critical issues begging for heavy lifting everywhere you look, from energy and the environment to nuclear proliferation, human rights or East Asian security, Washington and Beijing settled for a sterile photo-op.

Given the state of the world’s problems, this is truly unfortunate, but there seems little hope for near-term change. Under President George W. Bush, Washington has squandered so much of its power, influence and treasure that there is little energy or inclination left for true engagement with the emerging Chinese colossus. What happens under a future administration is anyone’s guess.

China’s leadership is equally uninspired, albeit for different reasons. Giving new meaning to the label conservative, Hu and his team are shaping up as the ultimate risk evaders.

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