Sino-U.S. ties set to look up

BEIJING Nov. 24. Even as the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference has extended "full support'' to the newly-elected leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the event does not eclipse the focus here on the emerging direction in Beijing's equation with Washington.

The endorsement of "firm solidarity'' with the new leadership has been accompanied by a call to all the members of the Consultative Conference to help the CPC's new General Secretary, Hu Jintao, and his team uphold Deng Xiaoping Theory on China's modernisation and related issues and implement the "important thought'' of "Three Represents'' on the new identity of China's ruling party that enjoys a monopoly of power.

The Consultative Conference is an integral aspect of China's present political order. While the principle of "Three Represents'', an essentially domestic issue, is associated with Jiang Zemin, China's President who was until recently the CPC's General Secretary too, his foreign policy of crafting a delicate and `constructive' equation with the U.S. is no less an important aspect of the political discourse here.

In a political-economic sense, a key element of Mr. Jiang's guidelines can be juxtaposed with China's relationship with the West in general and the U.S. in particular. This relates to the guideline that the CPC should represent the advanced production forces in China. The current level of America's interest and involvement in China's economic modernisation provides the link between the norms of "Three Represents'' and the new direction in China's foreign policy towards the U.S.

With the U.S. navy, in particular, evincing a heightened interest in interacting with China at this time, the issue under spotlight is Mr. Jiang's comment on the potential for an `unceasing' progress in Sino-American engagement.

The Chinese President has spoken of the possibility of progress through a process of "seeking common ground while setting aside differences''. However, while Mr. Jiang's prescription of this potency is designed to promote a forward-looking approach towards the U.S., there is one issue on which China will not compromise.

Wang Hongwei, possibly China's most influential strategic expert, told The Hindu that the Taiwan issue holds the `key' to the future of Sino-American ties. Another but related view within the strategic affairs community in Beijing is that China, as much as Russia or India, is eager not only to `influence' the U.S. foreign policy but also to improve relations with Washington.

Yet, the strategic consensus in China is that the future of Sino-American relationship will largely be determined by the policies that the U.S. might adopt in the run-up to the end-game in the re-unification of Taiwan with China.

According to LuWen, author of "ABC of the Taiwan question'', a peaceful reunification is the "best choice''. However, as a top American diplomat underlined, Washington still maintains that its lack of support for the notion of Taiwanese independence would not necessarily mean a proactive opposition to this idea. While this strategic nuance is not lost on the Chinese authorities, the present mood in Beijing is to make the best of the emerging entente with Washington on anti-terror issues.