China’s influence seen at summit

Scott Tong Sep 7, 2007

China’s influence seen at summit

Scott Tong Sep 7, 2007


Kai Ryssdal: As it happens, President Bush raised the topic of product safety with Chinese President Hu Jintao today. The two met at start of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Sydney.

Lots of things to talk about, of course. One of the big ones is climate change. Australia’s put it at the top of the summit agenda. The president said today the U.S won’t be able to stop global warming without help from developing countries.

President Bush: In order for there to be effective climate change policy, India and China need to be a part of the process. In order to get them in the process, they have to be included in setting international goals.

Vijay Vaitheeswaran’s a correspondent with The Economist magazine.

Vijay Vaitheeswaran: I wouldn’t break out the champagne, saying that we have the solution to climate change.

He points out there’s less that’s likely to actually come out of the summit than meets the eye.

Vaitheeswaran: A nonbinding agreement amongst countries for, in terms of these targets, could be seen as being as good as an oral contract. It’s only as good as the paper it’s written on.

In the lead-up to the APEC summit this weekend, President Bush has had to fend off accusations he’s been ignoring the Asian Pacific region. China, on the other hand, has been very attentive, as our Shanghai correspondent Scott Tong reports.

Scott Tong: Most APEC leaders are in Sydney for the weekend, but good friends like to spend quality time together.

Chinese President Hu Jintao has spent the whole week in Australia. And he’s been busy, agreeing to buy $37 billion of natural gas from Down Under. China is Australia’s top trade partner.

David Zweig is with the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He says Beijing has traded with the Aussies for years, a big portion being minerals for raw materials.

David Zweig: Many Americans only think about toys and textiles. But China has become a major manufacturer of machines. And you need aluminum, you need copper wiring, you need all kinds of resources that they didn’t need before.

China’s increasingly an economic giant in Asia, but most Aussies seem pretty laid back about that.

Malcolm Cook is with the Lowy Institute, a Sydney think tank. Its new poll found Australians feel just as warmly about China as they do about their longtime ally, the United States.

Malcolm Cook: Twenty years ago, China had a very negative public image in Australia, largely seen as an ideological threat. So the Australian opinions of China have been growing warmer quite quickly.

It doesn’t hurt that Chinese trade has helped Australia’s economy grow for 17 years straight. Politicians there don’t have to fret about a massive China trade deficit, the way folks in Washington do.

Beyond Australia, Beijing is trying to cast itself as a benign economic partner across Asia. And Hu Jintao will be making that case throughout the APEC summit.

In Shanghai, I’m Scott Tong for Marketplace.

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