Solid foundation for U.S., China

U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao held a summit in Beijing earlier this week and agreed to push cooperation on such issues as the fight against global warming, denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and efforts to realize a world without nuclear weapons. The two leaders refrained from locking horns on such issues as Taiwan and human rights.

Their joint statement not only testifies to the desire of the United Sates and China to seek coexistence in the 21st century but also shows that their bilateral relationship can exercise a large influence in international politics. China, with the largest population and the second-biggest military budget in the world, will become the world’s No. 2 economy soon, surpassing Japan.

The statement in part said, “The United States and China have an increasingly broad base of cooperation and share increasingly important common responsibilities on many major issues concerning global stability and prosperity. The two countries should further strengthen coordination and cooperation, work together to tackle challenges, and promote world peace, security and prosperity.”

As Mr. Obama said, the U.S. and China are not without difficulty in some areas, including bilateral trade and the currency issue. The two leaders avoided specifics in their joint statement. China agreed to expand domestic demand and raise consumer spending’s share of gross domestic product growth, while the U.S. agreed to increase national savings and reduce the federal budget deficit. They also agreed to fight protectionism.

Mr. Obama and Mr. Hu agreed to work together for a successful outcome at next month’s U.N. Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen. The U.S. and China account for some 40 percent of the world’s greenhouse-gas emissions. But China is not ready to set an emissions reduction target. Japan and the U.S. could cooperate toward encouraging China to make a stronger commitment. It is clear that the U.S. and China alone cannot solve every major global issue. Japan can play a positive role without antagonizing them.