Foreign Affairs
5th China US S&ED: new faces, new issues
Last Updated: 2013-07-09 15:31 | CRI
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The latest China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue is due to kick off Wednesday in Washington, with new faces representing both sides on a new set of issues.

The Sunnylands summit between the presidents of China and the United States was just a month ago in California.

It has been hailed as an important meeting, with both sides vowing to build a new type of relationship between great powers.

And observers in the US say the upcoming China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue is also a very important meeting between the two powers.

Kenneth Lieberthal is a leading China observer at the Washington-based Brookings Institution.

He says both China and the United States are viewing the upcoming S&ED as an important follow up to last month's Sunnylands summit.

"Neither side saw the Sunnylands summit as an end itself. Both sides saw it as a hopefully a beginning of putting together a capacity to deal with each other at ways more meaning that overtime will build more confidence in the future than what has transpired before. And both sides at the time saw the next big step as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue."

This year's S&ED is the first edition of the annual sessions since the government transition in both countries.

All four co-chairs are new faces. On the Chinese side, Vice Premier Wang Yang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi will represent China.

On the U.S. side, Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew will represent the United States' interests.

Richard Bush with the Brookings Institute says he believes it's also important for senior officials from both governments to build up closer personal relationships, just as the two leaders did during the Sunnylands summit.

"On the S&ED this year, I would guess one thing made it special is that in addition to Wang Yang and Secretary Lew, there are a whole lot of other people who've never met each other before. And the building up of those personal relationships between counterparts in the two governments becomes very important in the conduct of the relationship."

In addition to the new faces, there are also new issues on the horizon for this session of the S&ED.

The US side is expected to focus on cyber security, climate change, economic and trade relations, on top of military-to-military ties.

Kenneth Lieberthal with Brookings says there's room for both sides to find common ground.

"The big story here, I think, in this arena, in so far as, there is one, is that the climate change issue has moved significantly up the Chinese agenda over the past year, and as you all know, it's also moved up President Obama's operational agenda as he's entered his second term. So both sides are looking for major projects to engage in and also to coordinate more effectively in their postures in multilateral international negotiations."

The recent establishment of a cyber security working group is also being pointed to as an example of the cooperation between the Chinese and US governments.

Giving the scope and dimensions of China-U.S. relations, experts are calling for more follow up exchanges that go beyond the S&ED.

Here is Jonathan Pollack of the Brookings Institution.

"This summit, the S&ED and other events just highlight the shared stakes that the United States and China have and that the determination of a longer term will depend not on one meeting alone, one set of activities, but whether both leaderships mean what they say in terms of try to build something that is different for the longer term."

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