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Joint efforts needed to keep Sino-US ties on track
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It is a common agreement among Chinese scholars that the new US administration will carry forward the established bilateral framework and have a shorter transition and run-in period than its predecessors in dealing with China. But it is also believed that problems will be there to plague bilateral relations, although the groundwork of the ties will not be rocked.

As the new US administration takes office, the two countries face an urgent challenge of finding out how to defuse the potential crises in bilateral relations and put them onto a track of normal and smooth development

Economic and trade issues will prove thorny ones. In the context of a gloomy economic environment at home and abroad, the Barack Obama administration will undoubtedly take measures to rescue the plummeting stock market, expand employment and improve people's livelihood.

The Chinese government is also busy with handling a range of issues, from finding employment for graduates to avoiding instability brought by laid-off migrant workers' return home. It is also struggling to spur the economy, maintain an expected growth target and expand domestic demand.

The two governments' focus on domestic issues will unavoidably hinder elasticity and flexibility in their foreign policies. Also, the high expectations Obama's team has pinned on China, if not satisfied, will possibly detonate the fuse of bilateral frictions or confrontation. The new administration expects China to continue buying US treasury bonds, increase investment in the International Monetary Fund and strengthen coordination with the US side on the reform of the two countries' financial systems.

Out of its own political and economic considerations, China, however, is unlikely to meet all these expectations. Representing the interests of ordinary people, manufacturing and hi-tech sectors and trade unions, Obama's Democratic administration is expected to value opinions of these groups, which expected their interests to have been better protected in the trade with China.

Disappointed with the Sino-US Strategic Economic Dialogue's failure to force China into concessions and dissatisfied with the Bush administration's excessive representation of the interest of domestic financial tycoons and monopolistic enterprises, these interest groups will possibly exert more pressures on the new administration.

It is thus expected China's currency exchange rate, product quality, intellectual property rights and opening of its financial market would top Obama's agenda. Also, China's new labor standard might offer a new topic for the US administration to extend pressures.

Diplomacy will also be on top of the agenda of the Obama administration. American troops withdrawal from Iraq and its military reinforcement in Afghanistan are expected to be a top issue. At the same time, how to rebuild its relations with Europe and Russia and how to handle the nuclear issues on the Korean Peninsula and in Iran will also remain outstanding tasks.

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