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US should move to repair China ties

By Huang Xiangyang (chinadaily.com.cn)
Updated: 2010-02-19 12:40
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After so much fanfare -- featured by intense media attention and China's repeated warnings -- US President Barack Obama finally met the Dalai Lama at the White House on Thursday.

With this latest move to test China's limit of tolerance, Obama has hit a home run to complete his months-long season of a game called "antagonizing China".

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At least we hope so. After all the recent tensions in Sino-US relations, a half-time break is what both sides desperately need.

But it is still too early to heave a sigh of relief.

Thanks to his vow to "get much tougher" with China, Obama has struck nearly every note to create the cacophony against a country that he once pledged not to contain. From the US$6.4 billion arms sales to Taiwan to issues related to currency rates and Internet freedom, Obama has taken a poke at China in every possible front.

So much that no one can say for sure whether China-US relationship is resilient enough to survive all the damages done.

It is up to Washington to show its sincerity to begin again the work of repairing the damaged relations.

It usually takes some time for US leaders to learn the ropes of their China policy.

Bill Clinton had argued that Washington "should not reward China with improved trade status when it has ... failed to make sufficient progress on human rights". George W. Bush had pledged to do "whatever it took" to defend Taiwan. But it did not took them long to come to terms with reality.

China, with a quarter of the world's population and a fast growing economy, means a lot to the US and the world. It does both sides absolutely no good if the two countries collide rather than cooperate.

It would have been foolish not to understand this at an early date.

In a speech Obama made during his visit to Shanghai in November last year, Obama quoted a Chinese proverb "consider the past you shall know the future".

Hopefully he really knows what he quoted.