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Tensions Between Washington and Beijing on Many Issues

Despite attempts to improve relations, there are many signs of continued Sino-American tensions.
By Amiel Ungar
First Publish: 7/17/2011, 3:26 PM / Last Update: 7/17/2011, 9:32 PM

China and the United States have made attempts to dampen down the tensions between them. However despite such efforts, the sensitivity persists as can be gleaned from a number of recent rough spots in the relationship.

The Chinese press exploded with indignation over the meeting between the Dalai Lama of Tibet and President Barack Obama. Obama made an effort to keep the meeting low-key amd shifted the venue from the Oval Office, where the president usually convenes with foreign leaders, to the Map Room. In the communiqué, the president took pains to state that he was merely interested in the preservation of Tibetan culture and religion, whereas on the sovereignty issue, Tibet was indisputably part of China.

The US deputy ambassador in Beijing was nevertheless summoned for a dressing down and the Chinese press claimed that by the meeting the US "has seriously interfered in China's internal affairs, hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, undermined China's key interests and damaged the Sino-American relations." - this according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu.

The Chinese also expressed their displeasure with the military exercises that the United States conducted with various countries in the Pacific who have territorial disputes with China.Gen. Chen Bingde, chief of the General Staff of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, condemned the timing of U.S. naval exercises with Vietnam and also recently with the Philippines as "inappropriate" in light of the South China Sea issues.

A China Daily editorial accused :

"The US has orchestrated several military drills in the past month with countries in maritime territorial disputes with ChinaIt has turned the South China Sea into the US playground to project its power in Asia."

The editorial went on to warn the countries that US help came with a price tag and that there was no free lunch

The Chinese anger over what it condemns as US meddling is reciprocated on Capitol Hill. Senator Jim Webb of Virginia (D. Virginia), a former Secretary of the Navy, has called for the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Middle East so that the United States could concentrate on the Chinese buildup and thus avoid a future "Munich moment".

Our situation in East Asia with respect to China and China’s expansionist military activities has deteriorated…We are approaching a Munich moment with China and it’s not being discussed.”

Webb and others shepherded through the Senate a resolution calling for multilateral negotiations to solve the boundary disputes. China would prefer to tackle each country separately on a bilateral basis, which would work to its advantage. Webb wants the US to push for multilateral l negotiations given China's "pattern of intimidation."

At this time China has also chosen to escalate tensions with the Vatican by ordaining a Catholic Bishop without the sanction of the Vatican.

All the above issues can be considered in one way or another reflections of Chinese sensitivity over the issue of sovereignty.

Another issue that will not help Sino-American relations is the signing of a multibillion-dollar agreement with Iran. Culminating the visit by He Guoqiang, a senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC), from Thursday to Saturday,the Chinese guests proclaimed how much China cherished its friendship with Iran and how such bilateral cooperation would help regional and world peace and development.  While America seeks to isolate Iran, China is showing that Iran will not be isolated.