China's rising wealth and influence concerns Washington ahead of Hu visit

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Beijing, Jan.17 (ANI): As Chinese President Hu Jintao prepares to visit Washington this week in an attempt to defuse tensions with the United States, Obama administration officials are grappling with what they describe as a more complex reality-China being far wealthier and more influential than the United States.

American officials have spent years urging President Hu to revalue China's currency, rein in North Korea, ease up on dissidents and crack down on the copying of American technology.

The view in Washington is that President Hu is often at the mercy of a diffuse ruling party in which generals, ministers and big corporate interests have more clout, and less deference, than they did in the days of Mao or Deng Xiaoping, who commanded basically unquestioned authority.

China's military has sometimes pursued an independent approach to foreign policy. So have many of China's biggest state-owned companies, sometimes to the United States' detriment.

The result, according to the New York Times, is that relations between the world's largest superpower and its fastest-rising one are at one of their lowest point in years, battered by confrontations that have taken both presidents Obama and Hu Jintao by surprise.

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner last week hinted that jockeying for power and an coming leadership transition have degraded China's ability to set consistent policies.

"There is a remarkable amount of chaos in the (Chinese) system, more than you ever saw dealing with the Chinese 20 years ago," Brent Scowcroft, the former national security adviser and Defense Secretary Robert Gates's mentor, said.

Despite Hu's repeated assurances that the Chinese market would continue to open up to foreigners, business leaders complain that regulators have made it more difficult for foreign energy, communications and banking concerns to compete with China's state-backed favorites.

Hu has repeatedly asserted China's disinclination to challenge American power.

His designated foreign policy coordinator, State Councilor Dai Bingguo, recently wrote an article reaffirming Deng's warning, made back when China's modernization was beginning, that the country should bide its time before seeking a global role.

On Friday, the article was cited by Obama's national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, who characterized it as "a definitive statement at this point of the leadership's approach to foreign policy generally and the United States specifically." (ANI)

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