China and the U.S. are set to start their annual high-level talks聽in Washington聽on Tuesday to discuss deepening cooperation on strategic and economic issues as well as people-to-people exchange.
The seventh China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) will be co-chaired by Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang and State Councilor Yang Jiechi, special representatives of Chinese President Xi Jinping, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, on behalf of U.S. President Barack Obama.
The sixth China-U.S. High-Level Consultation on People-to- People Exchange (CPE) will be co-chaired by Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong and Kerry.
The S&ED will cover a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues of common concern, including climate change, interaction in the Asia Pacific, managing differences and sensitive situations, United Nations and multilateral affairs, science and innovation, green ports and ships, as well as fighting illegal trade in wildlife.
During the economic dialogue, officials will have in-depth discussions on macro-economic policy and restructuring, trade and investment promotion, and financial market stabilization and reform, including the exchange of "negative lists" on a mutual investment treaty, which outline sectors that are closed to foreign investment.
The CPE talks will focus on cooperation in education, science and technology, culture, health, sports, women and youth. Before heading to Washington on Monday, Liu had already visited Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Houston, Texas for a series of meetings and interaction with U.S. officials, athletes, and Chinese students in the U.S..
This year's S&ED and the CPE, which come at a time when there are a few hiccups in bilateral relations, are also expected to pave the way for a successful state visit to the U.S. in September by President Xi.
China-U.S. ties have been strained recently over the South China Sea dispute and U.S. allegations about China's hacking of its federal computer networks, which is flatly rejected by Beijing.
In the eyes of some U.S. experts, the continuation of high- level China-U.S. communication and meetings despite disputes is a demonstration of maturing bilateral ties based on shared interests.
Douglas Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told Xinhua in an interview that toning down friction will likely be "the most important outcome" from the talks and consultation, as the two sides are working to make President Xi's U.S. visit a success.
Robert Daly, director of Kissinger Institute on China and the U. S. at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, told Xinhua that there has been an increase in suspicions and accusations between the two sides since Obama's China visit in November 2014, so "it is likely that both nations will want to use the S&ED and CPE to reverse this trend."
Signs are also emerging on both sides to tone down their rhetoric to avoid derailing the annual high-level talks and to create a positive atmosphere for Xi's visit.
Washington said last week that it has an "unwavering determination" to avoid a military confrontation with Beijing, following China's announcement that its land reclamation projects on some islands in the South China Sea would soon come to an end.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said on Friday that China is ready to work with the U.S. to implement the consensus reached by their leaders, enhance strategic communication, promote mutually beneficial cooperation, properly handle differences, so as to push for new progress in the building of a new model of major power relationship.
Michael O'Hanlon, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told Xinhua that this year's talks "offer the possibility of progress," while cautioning against having expectations for major breakthroughs.
Daniel Russel, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, told reporters Thursday at a news briefing on the China-U.S. talks that the U.S. works to expand areas of practical cooperation with China while seeking to resolve or at least manage their differences.
Russel stressed that all these talks will provide the two sides "a really important, regularized platform to strengthen our relationship, to deepen our coordination, to promote cooperation, and to narrow where we can -- at least manage -- our differences."