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Both sides are calling the first meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue a success. Of course, success is in the eyes of the beholder and both governments have strong reasons to wear rose-colored glasses. Although the concrete results of this meeting are less impressive, establishing a positive and cooperative tone is the first, critical step in making progress over the long run.

The Beijing government has long been disgruntled at the fact that its discussions with Washington, while frequent and high-level, were not “strategic.” The U.S. response, at least during the Bush administration, was that “strategic dialogues” were reserved for allies, a distinction reflecting the status of those relationships. U.S. President Barack Obama felt the U.S.-China relationship needed to take on a larger range of issues, and agreed to upgrade the meeting with China to a Strategic and Economic Dialogue, in place of the Strategic Economic Dialogue of the past.

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