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High hopes pinned on President Hu´s visit (01/19/2011)

Updated: 2011/1/19 9:52:00

$574 million business deals signed as media highlight Sino-US relations

WASHINGTON/HOUSTON - Leading US experts on China have hailed the upcoming summit between President Hu Jintao and his US counterpart Barack Obama, as commercial deals between the two countries, worth nearly $600 million, were signed on Monday.

The visit by Hu, who flew to the United States on Tuesday, is timely and will enhance the relationship, the experts said.

"The visit is a good opportunity, not just for the leaders to get together but for people in China and the US to feel that this is an important relationship. It has a public aspect," Douglas Spelman, deputy director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, said. "I think both sides have to give priority to the underlining common interests and not let the differences override them."

Susan Shirk, professor at the University of California, San Diego, said that the visit will be an important occasion for China and the US to "get back on a positive track".

"That is certainly in the interests of both countries. And I see some encouraging signs on the Chinese side that that´s what they want to do," said Shirk, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia during the Clinton administration.

While the White House is preparing to roll out the red carpet for the leader of the world´s largest developing country, the US media have devoted heavy coverage to the visit, describing it as the most important in 30 years.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser in Jimmy Carter´s administration, described Hu´s visit as "the most important top-level US-China encounter since Deng Xiaoping´s historic trip more than 30 years ago", in a column he wrote for The New York Times earlier this month.

The Chicago Tribune said that the two nations are emphasizing cooperation after a difficult year in 2010.

CNN described relations between Beijing and Washington as being at a "critical juncture", but added that the US does not view China as a threat.

Nicholas Platt, president emeritus of the Asia Society, said that strategic trust, which he described as a buzzword among intellectuals and the foreign policy community, was a goal worth achieving.

"I think (it´s) something we should all be striving for. We should also look below the surface to what Chinese and Americans are actually doing together before making a judgment of whether we have trust or not," he said.

Meanwhile, just ahead of the visit, Chinese and US businesses signed six deals worth $574 million in Houston, Texas, on Monday to kick off a four-day Beijing trade mission to the US.

The deals include imports of cotton as well as solar cell development and a PV (photovoltaic) system, used in power generation.

The trade delegation, sponsored by the Ministry of Commerce, is scheduled to visit 12 states and cities including Texas, North Carolina, Chicago, Boston and Washington DC.

China ranks as Houston´s third largest global trading partner. In 2009, trade between Houston and China totaled $10 billion.

More than 700 companies in Houston currently have business deals with China. In recent years, China has accelerated its pace of direct investment in the US, which now exceeds $4.8 billion, excluding the Houston deals.

China and Houston also signed a Memorandum of Understanding to strengthen business ties between the China Chamber of Commerce for Import and Export of Machinery and Electronic Products and the Greater Houston Partnership, an advocate for the city´s business community.

Jeff Moseley, president and CEO of the partnership, said the deals are an economic boost to the US.

Moseley said Chinese investors are motivated to invest in the US.

"One of the things we are lacking here is a nonstop flight from Houston to Beijing or Shanghai. If you have one or two stops from China to Houston, it becomes a barrier because it takes time. We want to remove that barrier," Moseley told China Daily.

He said Hu´s visit is a "tremendous, positive, warm and open gesture and it symbolizes that ... we have shared goals and we have shared opportunities."

Houston Mayor Annise Parker hosted a luncheon for Wang Chao, vice-commerce minister and leader of the business delegation, after the signing ceremony.

"China is the strongest growing economy in the world and we have a strong Chinese community and an international business community here in Houston that wants to do business with China, so the time is right to develop that relationship," Parker told China Daily.

Parker sees Hu´s visit as a "very promising one" and said "if th

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