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Asia, World

Esther Teo
Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

Asia, World

Xi, Obama likely to hold another summit

The Straits Times | Esther Teo | Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

Chinese President Xi Jinping (left) and US President Barack Obama (right) met for their first informal summit in California in 2013. The two presidents are likely to hold another informal summit on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders' meeting in Beijing in November.

BEIJING - China's President Xi Jinping and his American counterpart Barack Obama are likely to hold another informal summit on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) leaders' meeting in Beijing in November.

United States senior official for Apec Robert Wang revealed preparations for the summit at an interview with state-run Global Times tabloid published yesterday.

The two leaders' meeting could be longer than their first one, which lasted about eight hours over two days, said Dr Wang, who added that he expects issues on the North Korean denuclearisation and US-China economic cooperation to take centre stage.

The presidents held their first informal summit at the Annenberg Estate in Sunnylands, California, in June last year. A key outcome of that meeting was a mutual commitment towards a "new model of major-power relations" that minimises conflict and maximises cooperation.

Though Sino-US ties have since soured on fronts such as cybersecurity and regional territorial spats, observers say a similar summit is still welcome.

Fudan University foreign policy analyst Shen Dingli said that on the whole, bilateral ties have improved. Economic ties have become stronger over the years while more Chinese students have headed to the US to further their studies, he noted.

"As China gets stronger, it is only normal that the US gets wary and this might lead to some disagreements between the two countries, but it shouldn't be perceived as relations worsening," he said.

"Whatever issues that both countries cannot resolve today, these can be addressed later. Bilateral relations are always a work in progress," Prof Shen added.

Chinese international relations expert Jin Canrong of Renmin University said both leaders can make the upcoming meeting more effective by finding ways to cooperate, even on smaller issues.

"Cooperation in various areas, be it military exercises or anti-corruption efforts, can gradually accumulate to help build mutual trust, which can then improve relations," he added.

Singapore's East Asia Institute analyst Chen Gang, however, played down expectations that the meeting might yield any significant breakthrough.

Just like the informal summit last year, any meeting between the two leaders in November is likely to be "more symbolic than substantive", he added.

"It's just to show that both sides are still talking," he said.

"But I wouldn't expect too much as the difficulties facing the US-China relationship are more structural - a rising power versus an existing power - rather than due to personal factors."

But Sino-US cooperation is deepening in some areas, such as through the chairing of efforts to introduce a regional network to fight corruption and bribery.

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