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US envious of China's strengthening but trying to prevent crisis, say experts

Tensions are building up gradually in relations between China and the US but the two countries depend on each other in too big a measure, Russian experts believe.

US Vice President Joe Biden opened an annual forum on strategic and economic dialogue with China on Monday saying the destiny of the world was hinged on how successful both countries could be in the solution of the problems they were faced with.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit the US in September. At the end of last week, officials of the People's Liberation Army of China and US Armed Forces signed an agreement on military cooperation that envisions bilateral exercises of ground troops.

On the face of it, relations between the two countries remain tense, particularly in the light of China's territorial claims in the South China Sea and construction of artificial islands there.

Biden said at the dialogue forum that the international waterways should remain protected and free for commerce while the Chinese Deputy Prime Minister, Wang Yang, called for avoiding any form of confrontation that might lead up to deplorable aftermaths, which would make the two countries pay a huge price and compel the global community to suffer.

"The US treats the strengthening of China with much jealousy but the likelihood of a conflict between them is really small because of a big degree of their economic interlinkage," Natalya Stapran, the director of the Center for Asia and Pacific Studies at the Moscow-based Academy of Government Service told TASS.

"Beijing realizes that Washington is seeking to contain it, and hence it is trying to disengage itself," she said. "Chinese economy was heavily dependent on the American economy until fairly recently and now the Chinese are creating independent institutes and mechanisms and they have turned the yuan into a reserve currently."

Relations between Beijing and Washington are multifaceted, since the two countries play a huge role in each other's foreign trade that exceeds $ 600 billion, Vassily Kashin, a senior research fellow at the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies told TASS.

"On the one hand, regional competition and elements of confrontation are obvious but on the other hand, trade and financial cooperation also matter and China is playing an important role as a creditor of the US," he said. "No one is interested in a deterioration of the crisis that might affect both economies."

Kashin said he was not viewing the agreement on military cooperation as a factor of any special significance. "This kind of cooperation aims first and foremost to raise the level of mutual awareness for prevention of incidents, for better understanding of each other and for slashing the tensions," he said.

Still, Sino-American relations show the signs of certain deterioration, Kashin said.

"They worsened on the background of implementation of a project for the construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea Beijing has launched but the process is slow and gradual and it has been going on year after year," he said.

"It is contained by the presence of a huge business lobby in the US that's interested in relations with China," Kashin went on. "It's capable of influencing big-time politics. Even making a movie that would show the Chinese in an unfavorable light is a big problem. On the face of it, the Russians or the Arabs can be portrayed in any way."

He believes that political relations between Beijing and Washington do not influence relations between Beijing and Moscow in any way. "The US made attempts to wield impact on China so that the latter would cut down its support for Russia at the early stages of the Ukrainian crisis but these attempts failed to deliver as China refused to join a campaign for Russia's isolation," he said.

The dominant viewpoint in the US suggests that the rapprochement between Russia and China at this stage does not pose any threat because neither country is able to make serious moves towards meeting the other country halfway and any union between them is out of the question, Kashin said.

Although the US experts are grossly mistaken in this case, there is nothing that could possible change their opinion today, he said.

"There are some politicians who express grave concerns in this respect but if one admits the fact of a buildup of Russian-Chinese relations, this will mean that the US has generally conducted an erroneous policy towards Russia, and that's why it's more convenient for everyone to refrain from acknowledging facts," Kashin said.

"Consequently, there'll be no powerful reaction to the Russian-Chinese rapprochement on the part of the US," he said in conclusion.

[Source: By Lyudmila Alexandrova, Itar Tass, Moscow, 24Jun15]

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