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Cyber, trade, relationship building among top issues at China-U.S. S&ED talks

Cyber, trade and relationship building between the world's two biggest economies will top the agenda in the upcoming China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) talks, U.S. experts said.

"On the strategic side, I expect that there will be more discussion of the new type of major relationship," Bonnie Glaser, senior associate at the Washington-based think tank Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Xinhua.

"There will be a concerted effort to build on the Obama-Xi talks," she said, referring to last month's high profile summit in California between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his U.S. counterpart Barack Obama, which were aimed at shaping a broad framework on how to manage a new-type of relationship between major countries.

"China wants to try to reach common understanding on this concept," Glaser said.

The July 10-11 S&ED talks come after the controversy involving former U.S. government contractor Edward Snowden, who exposed massive U.S. global surveillance and spying operations and passed through Hong Kong after fleeing the United States.

But experts said the spat is likely to blow over, and will not overshadow this week's meetings.

"The U.S. and China are both interested in substantive discussions that advance cooperation, not finger pointing," Glaser said.

Yukon Huang, senior associate at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Xinhua that concerns over trade and investment are likely to top the economic agenda of the annual meetings.

China will want to talk about barriers such as restrictions on the types of technology it can import from the United States, Huang said, such as technologies that Washington claims can be used for military purposes.

On trade, both sides want to avoid protectionist sentiments, and China wants to make sure the U.S. continues to be a fairly open trade regime that does not implement protectionist tariffs, Huang said.

The United States will want to talk about whether Chinese exporters and producers have unfair advantages in terms of subsidies or interest rates, he said.

Glaser said tensions on the Korean Peninsula will certainly be on the agenda, including conditions for dialogue and resumption of the six-party talks.

The cyber issue is also likely to be addressed, Glaser said. The United States has in the past accused China of cyber espionage, but China refutes those claims and says it has also been a victim of cyber spying as shown in the Snowden revelations.

Some experts maintained that last month's summit meetings put the two sides on the right track to discuss the cyber issue, with some arguing the U.S. media has blown the problem out of proportion.

Glaser also pointed to comments made earlier this month at the ASEAN Regional Forum, in which U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spelled out what his country hopes to achieve.

Kerry noted growing international concern about the risk of conflict that could result from countries' actions on cyber space, including mistaken attribution.

Huang said climate change will also come up, adding that green technology is one area in which the two countries could collaborate, as the U.S. side possesses much technological expertise and China is able to mass produce equipment that can help reduce the global carbon footprint.

China and the United States have been holding the annual S&ED talks since 2009, when Obama came to power, as a major channel of communications to enhance mutual trust, boost cooperation on varied fields, and properly deal with differences to prevent them from derailing the general relations.

[Source: By Matthew Rusling, Xinhua, Washington, 08Jul13]

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