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May 13, 2011

Looking Past the 'Orchestra Pit' on China
Posted by The Editors

US-China

This post by Nina Hachigian, who is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

I went to an interesting exhibit yesterday, called 91 92 93, on display at the Schindler house in Los Angeles. In it, three artists, Andrea Fraser, Simon Leung and Lincoln Tobier, each revisited a work they had done some 20 years earlier. Tobier’s piece documented the political impact of Roger Ailes, long before Rupert Murdoch hired him to create Fox News. Tobier told the story of how Roger Ailes fathered the “orchestra pit” theory of the media with this question: “If you have two guys on a stage and one guy says, 'I have a solution to the Middle East problem,' and the other guy falls in the orchestra pit, who do you think is going to be on the evening news?”

Ailes has certainly taken his theory to new heights with Fox News.  But it is pervasive now, and no more so than with China.   Only certain issues with China make the headlines—the value of its currency, the new jet fighter, the recent brutal crackdown on artists and political activists.  While those issues are each very important, what the media coverage of the US-China relationship does not tend to reveal is how broad it has become.

In addition to the mother of all bilateral forums, the annual Strategic & Economic Dialogue that was just held in Washington, D.C. , where the big issues like trade imbalances are on the agenda, look below at the list of over 40 other formal dialogues or cooperative efforts that exist or soon will between the US and Chinese governments.  This is far from a complete list, and it does not include the multilateral fora where the US and China are always interacting, like the G-20, IMF, East Asia Summit and APEC, among others.  Non-government cooperative efforts are not listed either.

All this exchanging can lead to tangible change.  The deliverables from this week’s S&ED were not breakthroughs, but were progress nonetheless.  And we cannot expect much more when two massive nations with different systems of government, history and values are trying to work things out. 

There is no G-2.  The US and China, even if they did see eye-to-eye, could not solve global problems on their own.  But deepening the very broad working relationship is a step in the right direction.

  1. U.S.-China Strategic Security Dialogue (SSD)
  2. Human Rights Dialogue
  3. U.S.-China consultation on the Asia-Pacific
  4. U.S.-China High-Level Consultation on People-to-People Exchange
  5. U.S.-China Women's Leadership Exchange and Dialogue
  6. Legal Experts Dialogue
  7. Policy planning Dialogue
  8. Africa Dialogue
  9. Latin America Dialogue
  10. South Asia Dialogue
  11. Central Asia Dialogue
  12. U.S.-China Counterterrorism Security Dialogue
  13. Nonproliferation Dialogue
  14. Defense Consultative Talks
  15. Military Maritime Consultative Agreement
  16. Climate Change Policy Dialogue
  17. Ten Year Framework (TYF) Joint Working Group (energy-related)
  18. U.S.-China Energy Efficiency Forum
  19. Energy Policy Dialogue
  20. Oil and Gas Industry Forum
  21. Renewable Energy Industry Forum
  22. Advanced Biofuels Forum
  23. U.S.-China discussions on law of the sea and polar issues
  24. U.S.-China Bilateral Forum on Combating Illegal Logging and Associated Trade
  25. U.S.-China Joint Commission meeting on Science and Technology Cooperation
  26. Joint Working Group of U.S.-China Agricultural Science and Technology Cooperation
  27. U.S.-China Joint Liaison Group on Law Enforcement Cooperation (JLG)
  28. Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Cooperation on Supply Chain Security and Trade Facilitation
  29. Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation in Jointly Establishing the Radiation Detection Training Center of China Customs
  30. Establishment of the U.S.-China Governors Forum to Promote Sub-National Cooperation
  31. U.S.-China Initiative on City-Level Economic Cooperation
  32. Senior level program on railways
  33. U.S.-China Investment Forum
  34. Annual Labor Dialogue
  35. Memorandum of Understanding Regarding Cooperation on Work Safety and Health
  36. U.S.-China Transportation Forum
  37. Sino-America symposium on health care reforms
  38. U.S.-China forum of communication and cooperation on traditional Chinese medicine
  39. Joint Experts Dialogue on Rules of Origin
  40. U.S.-China High Technology Working Group
  41. Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT)
  42. JCCT IPR Working Group on software legalization
  43. JCCT Textiles Consultative Group
  44. JCCT Trade Remedies Working Group
  45. JCCT Commercial Law Working Group
  46. JCCT Structural Issues Working Group
  47. JCCT Business Development and Industrial Cooperation Working Group
  48. Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. banking agencies and the China Banking Regulatory Commission

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