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This post was edited by abramicus at 2013-6-8 13:51|
With all the hoopla surrounding the Obama-Xi Summit that started yesterday afternoon, by now, it is half over. The "2-day" meeting wound up being a mere two half-days of handshakes, warm smiles, and elbow rubbing. Not bad, considering how important the host and guest are, and how precious their time must be. But historic? Game-changing? No, not that far.
We should not have high expectations of the next half which is already the farewell party.
Somehow, you get the sense of having eaten the appetizer, and then the dessert, but hardly feeling satisfied with a good meal.
To the Chinese people where symbolism is as important, if not more important, than substance, it is another feather in the cap of President Xi, and a sign of his international stature.
To the rest of the world, the symbolism is also, but not as important than the substance, or the lack thereof in the talks.
And, to experienced older hands in diplomacy, it symbolized the difficulty of bridging the gap between the two countries, where personal chemistry alone would be a bridge too far.
With other issues already burning hot such as Diaoyudao, and the endless accusations against North Korea for its unwillingness to denuclearize without any pre-condition of a security guarantee, it seems suprising that a new casus belli should emerge like a mirage from the desert sands as an official and as a popular reason for mutual distrust. To focus on it, to the exclusion of the far more real and measurable issues bedeviling bilateral relations, appears to well-wishers, as just another invented obstacle to a peace that is already slipping away from their hands.
In the end, Xi gets another plateful of issues to resolve before he can even attempt to scratch the surface of the more serious ones he has been trying to deal with. In fact, they are barely touched, if at all. Where does this take US-China relations, as China is beginning to claim credit for the dramatic turning around of North Korea? To deeper waters that permit even less verification and therefore even less trust, as cyber events are by nature harder to measure and confirm, than the mere enumeration of weapons and men.
Which all comes to the question, why? Why was he invited to a summit that promises understanding and trust, but does not even attempt to resolve the issues that lie underneath that distrust? Why the icing on the cake, when it is already spoiling from within? Why the pat on the back, when the knife remains unsheathed and honed to cut? Why the mirage of an oasis of peace, when all that exists is the same barren desert, heated to ever higher temperatures by the new cyber accusations? Did Xi get a chance to drink from the well of peace in the desert of war? Or did he simply have half a sip, to only go home thirstier than before? Time, and history alone, will tell.