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China Daily Website

Former diplomats see opportunity to build chemistry

Updated: 2013-06-06 01:48
By FU JING ( China Daily)

The upcoming summit between the presidents of China and the United States will help remove "anxiety" and establish "personal chemistry" and respect between the leaders, former senior officials from India and the US said.

"It is a very welcome development that these two countries are having such a summit," former Indian foreign secretary Krishnan Srinivasan told China Daily in an interview in Brussels.

"There is a bit of anxiety between these two big powers, and this meeting will help remove the anxiety."

He said the tension is mainly from the US intention to keep a hand in the regional security, territorial issues and economic interests of China's neighbors.

Srinivasan, who has conducted international affairs research since retiring 10 years ago, said he finds it interesting that Xi introduced the concept of a new type of relationship between major powers.

"I think it is very interesting to see how this new concept is developed in this summit," he said. "I believe if these two countries can strike some kind of relationship based on how to live together and address international challenges cooperatively, it will be excellent for the world."

Srinivasan said China believes the US can be a major asset to help its ascent, but also will be a major problem if the US does not want China to rise. "That is to say, the US' position regarding China is critical."

Asked if the US is ready to engage China or contain China, he said: "This is a big concern."

Srinivasan said the US currently uses a mixture of engagement and containment toward China. "You might call it 'con-gagement'," he said.

"The US wants to have China as a good partner, but at the same time, it is anxious," he said. "It is anxious because the US wants to have a say in the security and territorial disputes related to China in Asia."

Calling Xi and Premier Li Keqiang "cautious reformers", Srinivasan said they know exactly what is required in China, and they have promised to push economic growth and raise living standards. "We are looking forward to seeing that."

Frank Lavin, former undersecretary for international trade at the US Department of Commerce, said the summit is a chance for Xi and Obama to create "personal respect" for each other, though they may disagree on policy.

"It is very healthy to have the leaders of two countries know each other. It is an important part of this summit to establish personal chemistry," said Lavin, CEO of the trade company Export Now.

He said he has met Xi several times and Xi was a "disciplined, focused" leader.

Lavin said the first months after China's leadership transition is a period of consolidation, and that the new leadership is responsible can speak for the country, and has a sense of history and vision.

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