Under Obama, US-China ties may face shaky start | world | Hindustan Times
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Under Obama, US-China ties may face shaky start

Hillary Rodham Clinton has said no nation is more important to the United States than China. But ties between the two powers may be off to a rocky start just days into the Obama administration.

world Updated: Jan 24, 2009 09:25 IST

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has said no nation is more important to the United States than China.

But ties between the two powers may be off to a rocky start just days into the Obama administration.

During his first presidential speech on Tuesday, President Barack Obama spoke of how earlier generations of Americans had "faced down fascism and communism."

China's state broadcaster quickly faded out the audio of its live broadcast, the camera cutting back to a flustered studio anchor.

Then, on Thursday, Obama's choice to lead the Treasury Department, Timothy Geithner, wrote that Obama believes China is "manipulating" its currency, which American manufacturers say Beijing does to make its goods cheaper for US consumers and American products more expensive in China.

Geithner's comments could anger Chinese officials, who closely follow US political rhetoric and frequently decry what they consider foreign interference in China's internal affairs. The United States often criticises China about human rights and trade abuses, but Washington and Beijing find themselves increasingly intertwined in a host of crucial economic, military and diplomatic efforts.

A spokesman at the Chinese Embassy in Washington did not return messages seeking comment yesterday.

Selig Harrison, director of the Asia programme at the US-based Centre for International Policy, said it was "very ill-advised for the new administration to confront China as if this were 10 years ago and we were in a strong financial position internationally.