Tough Issues To Test U.S.-China Summit Glow


The presidents of China and the United States showed they can sing a summit duet in relative harmony but relations overall will remain more like two orchestras bickering over what score to play.

Getting North and South Korea back to the negotiating table was the biggest accomplishment of Hu Jintao's choreographed four-day visit to the United States and there were warm words about more cooperation between the economic powers.

Contained, but not resolved, were rifts over trade flows, currency policy and human rights.

Domestic politics, with U.S. President Barack Obama facing re-election in 2012 and Hu preparing to hand off the presidency in early 2013, hang over the prospects for major advances.

""The talk was largely about cooperative and shared long-term interest but there wasn't a clear path to reconciliation of short-term interests where there are conflicts,"" said Eswar Prasad, a Brookings Institution economist and former International Monetary Fund official.

But Prasad and other analysts saw a new maturity in the relationship after a rocky year as both sides seemed able to set out their differences without falling into confrontation.

The Washington stop was designed to benefit both leaders. It offered Hu the symbolism of a state visit, a White House dinner and chats with top American executives and gave Obama an opportunity to speak out on the importance of human rights and a level playing field for trade.

It was also a bit of a victory lap for Hu, who has seen China grow into the world's second-largest economy during his time as leader. As China ascends, the United States struggles to recover from its deepest downturn since the 1930s.

""I would separate how the two countries and leaders feel about each other and the relationship, and what is actually being done,"" said Stephen Yates of DC International Advisory, a former security adviser in the George W.

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