Chinese are coming

US PRESIDENT Bush offered a friendly yet formal welcome to President Hu Jintao of China when he visited him this Thursday. If the White House reception symbolised the uneasy, blow-hot blow-cold relationship between the reigning superpower and the emerging big power, the screaming interruption from a Falun Gong member during the Press conference represented the nettlesome issues between the two countries.

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Published: Sun 23 Apr 2006, 10:39 AM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 4:56 PM

So it was only fit that while profusely welcoming his guest, Bush gently conveyed the mounting US concerns on issues such as trade imbalance - China exports several times more than what it imports from the US - human rights and China's military ambitions.

While Washington's concerns on issues such as balanced trade relations, human rights and political freedom are well known, the US is more concerned over China's growing clout in military, political and economic terms. China has already overtaken Japan as the second biggest consumer of energy (oil) after the US as the country constantly expands its production capacity in all areas flooding world markets. With its GDP growing at an astounding 10 per cent a year, its hunger for energy grows at a rate that is hard to be matched by oil-producing nations. China's energy needs are expected to grow by 150 per cent by 2020.

This pits China in direct competition, and confrontation, with the US, currently the biggest consumer of the world's available oil. The US watches with growing unease as the red China woos oil rich nations from Saudi Arabia and Iran to Venezuela for future supplies. While China's growth in military terms is nothing compared to its economic progress, it is still a major source of concern to the US. Although China insists it believes in 'peaceful progress' and carefully avoids an arms race with the US, the world's biggest socialist country is clearly conscious of its growing power and stature. Be it on the question of Iran or the Palestinian-Israel conflict, China has sought to adopt an increasingly independent line from that of the US in its attempt to play a greater role on the world stage. It has, along with Russia, been insisting on a diplomatic and peaceful resolution of Iran question. Which again puts China and US in opposite camps. Beijing has also reached out to former communist ally and neighbouring Russia and Central Asian Muslim states forming a loose alliance.

No wonder the US sees these moves of red China as a challenge to its global hegemony and supremacy. The US attempt to enlist India's support to counter China is clearly motivated by these concerns. This, coupled with the two big players' growing appetite for energy, is going to dictate their relations in the crucial years to come. The US-China ties are going to shape the global power equations in this century, just as the US-Soviet Union relations did in the last century.

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