China Tests U.S. Ties
Michael Lelyveld - Radio Free Asia
March 23rd, 2009
BOSTON - China has not linked economic and military issues in its relations with the United States, but recent events show how both issues overlap in ties between the two countries, experts say.
Both Chinese and Western reports have drawn attention to Premier Wen Jiabao's critical comments about the U.S. economy on March 13, soon after a confrontation between Chinese vessels and a U.S. surveillance ship in the South China Sea.
"We have made a huge amount of loans to the United States. Of course, we are concerned about the safety of our assets," said Premier Wen Jiabao at a press conference following the National People's Congress annual session in Beijing. "To be honest, I'm a little bit worried."
"I would like to call on the United States to honor its words, stay a credible nation, and ensure the safety of Chinese assets," Wen said.
The unusual statement came five days after a close encounter in the South China Sea between the U.S. Navy surveillance ship Impeccable and five Chinese vessels which surrounded the ship and tried to impede its operations.