S&ED Talks with China Serve Up a Big Ol' Nothingburger

Posted by mmcmullan on 07/10/2014

The latest Strategic and Economic Dialogue, a major forum for communication between Washington and the Chinese government, wrapped up today in Beijing. Obama Administration officials — Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew among them — have packed their bags and are headed home.

So … besides a few pleasant photos at tourist hot spots, what are they coming back with?

Lots of promises for more dialogue, a few commitments to nonbinding agreements, and not much else.

Kerry, according to Reuters, walked away from the meetings having secured more bilateral cooperation between the U.S. and Chinese militaries, but having made little progress on the thorny issue of state-sponsored industrial espionage.  

And Lew, according to the Wall Street Journal, says that Chinese officials have “committed to reducing currency intervention and was preparing to make its foreign-exchange operations more transparent,” but:

Beijing left itself a major loophole on cutting interventions, saying it would make such a move only as conditions permit and offering no timeline for transparency.

Here’s the reality: We’ve talked and talked and talked. The Chinese government, by all accounts, is more than happy to listen, while continuing its cyber-espionage campaigns (another one was just revealed Wednesday night) and slow-walking the appreciation of its currency — it’s been doing so for a decade and it’s still undervalued.

Before we talk again, why not lay out some objective benchmarks that both sides can work toward?

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