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FEATURE

Obama's Push-Back Against China Is Bitter Medicine





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For the past number of years, the prevailing view in foreign policy circles in Washington has been that China's economic growth of 9%, along with the recent economic recession that hit the United States, has shifted the balance of Sino-U.S. relations in China's favor. During a recent conversation I had with David Bosco, the author of Five to Rule Them All, he pointed out that while for most of the Cold War and twenty-first century, the Soviet Union -- and then Russia -- led the efforts to challenge Western authority on the international stage, China has been becoming the leading voice of opposition in the United Nations Security Council in recent years.
And ever since President Obama's inauguration, China has been especially uncooperative on a number of global issues. Kenneth Lieberthal -- director of Brookings Institution's China Center in Washington -- says such testy relations in the first year of American administrations have historic precedence as the two countries are more willing to test each other. Nonetheless, China has shown to be particularly resistant to respond positively to Obama's international charm offensive. 

Two of those major issues have been climate change and Iran. China sent a low level diplomat to negotiate with President Obama during the Copenhagen Conference on climate change in 2009 and unilaterally ensured the conference's minimal success by resisting enforcement mechanisms for any agreement on carbon emissions. And, as the military rulers in Iran proceed with horrific human rights crimes and lack of cooperation to address concerns about their nuclear program, China has shown unwilling to cooperate on sanctions on Sepah-e Pasdaran, also known as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.  Continued...

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