The change of the negotiators representing China and the United States for the third round of their strategic dialogue paled into insignificance.
US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns replaced former US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick while Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi took the seat of Vice-Foreign Minister Dai Bingguo.
China and the United States started their third strategic dialogue in Beijing Wednesday, aiming to facilitate bilateral relations.
Its added weight accrues when expectations on the resumption of the six-party talks on the issue of Korean Peninsula are high. The dialogue took place against the backdrop that the six-party talks may be restarted around the corner.
It is a dialogue that focuses on the bigger picture of the bilateral relationship.
The dialogue came as a result of the consensus reached between President Hu Jintao and US President George W. Bush during the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation Summit in Chile in 2004. The discussions have been moving on quite well.
It has offered the two countries a chance to identify points of mutual interest and better understand each other's position. This lays a solid foundation to manage their differences.
This senior level meeting of its kind between the two countries is a new height in Sino-US relations, following recent frequent high-level visits and exchanges between them.
The two nations tend to prefer negotiations to confrontations in tackling their differences. They have agreed to continue their consultations to seek solutions to their own problems and issues of regional and international importance. As a result, they can work co-operatively.
This year witnesses a spurt of visits to each other's country by high officials. Burns is another important American to tour China, following US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the Commander of US forces in the Pacific Admiral William Fallon, Senator Charles E. Schumer and Senator Lindsey Graham.
President Hu visited the United States, followed by State Councilor Tang Jiaxuan late last month to discuss the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. Guo Boxiong, vice-chairman of the Central Military Commission of China, was invited to view a military drill in the United States.
A noticeable trend in Sino-US relations in the past two years is an increased vigor by the two sides in rebuilding a strategic dialogue.
The Sino-US relationship is showing an upward trend, with more highs than lows. The political and economic engagements after the terrorist attacks in the United States have been substantial. Along the strategic dialogue, China and the United States have set up teams for economic talks.
(China Daily November 9, 2006)