01/18/2011 12:04 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

U.S.-China Relations Get A Reality Check

The events of the past year seem to have led the United States to adopt a harder-eyed approach with China. Advancing cooperation is still the order of the day, but the run-up to Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to the United States has been characterized by an unusually frank set of speeches and commentaries by senior U.S. officials that highlight the systemic challenges of the relationship. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has called pointedly for China to live up to its commitment to universal values. Defense Secretary Robert Gates anticipates "evolutionary growth" in military-to-military relations, not "breakthroughs or headlines." And Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has made clear that only when China makes progress on U.S. priorities--such as the reduction of trade and investment barriers, protection of intellectual property rights, and currency revaluation--will the United States make progress on Chinese priorities, such as the export of high-tech products and market economy status.

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