Should Obama Expect a Gift from China on Iran?
On the New Yorker blog, Evan Osnos interviews Shi Yinhong, director of the Center for American Studies at Renmin University, in Beijing about U.S.- China relations in the wake of President Obama’s visit:
What do Chinese leaders make of Obama so far?
From the beginning of his Administration, as the leader of a superpower, he has said that China is important to the world’s politics and economy. Also, I think it’s very important that, up to now, he has not made too much of trade disputes, which differs from previous Administrations—even from that of China’s good friend George W. Bush. Obama has been attacked by some forces in the United States, but up to now he has not paid too much attention to China’s human rights issues. And that is important for Chinese leaders. And I think the leaders are satisfied that Obama generally takes a friendly attitude in discussions, and he expects China to play much more of a role in global issues, and he is more willing to accept that China still remains somewhat conservative. He is prudent when someone asks him to criticize China, and I think the Chinese leaders can feel that they have never received this kind of treatment from an American President.
So, if he is giving them what they want out of the relationship, will they consider that he might have a point when it comes to Iran?
Iran is a difficult problem. If we fixate on Iran, then we can’t expect Sino-U.S. relations will be very good. China is reluctant to go further than it has already gone. China sympathizes with American worries, but Iran, to China, is a very important country in the Middle East. China has interests, and it has a little different understanding of the situation, and I personally think that China will not do much more to meet American expectations.