Visiting the U.S. last week, China’s President Hu Jintao brought an agenda that, as he told a Washington, D.C., banquet in his honor, included working for stable and constructive long-term U.S.-China relations, expanding trade and economic cooperation, honoring the previously-agreed “one China” policy regarding Taiwan, strengthening communication on key international issues and treating each other as equals.

The reception he received from the Bush administration, however, matched neither those objectives nor what might be expected for a meeting with the leader of the world’s largest developing country.

From the absence of a state dinner to the gaffe of calling his country by Taiwan’s official name, the Bush administration gave the Chinese leader shabby treatment.

By contrast, the business community was receptive to Hu’s focus on mutually beneficial economic relations. China seeks expanded economic relations for rapid balanced development of its productive capacity, while U.S. corporations gain an unparalleled opportunity to sell products manufactured here in China’s huge market.

For many years Beijing’s foreign policy has emphasized building stable and peaceful relations with countries including the U.S. as vital to economic and social development at home.

This approach has scarcely been reciprocated by Washington, which has cited the “war on terror” to build military bases near China’s borders, acknowledged targeting China with nuclear weapons, and now officially calls China a military rival.

A further twist is that China, as the second largest buyer of U.S. Treasury bonds, plays a key role in Washington’s solvency.

The Bush administration’s focus on pressuring China to become, in Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick’s words, “a responsible stakeholder” in the international system really means China should not create obstacles to Bush’s imperialist policies.

Instead of badgering China to support U.S. sanctions against Iran, Bush should have proposed that the U.S. join China in a worldwide effort for nuclear disarmament. Instead of demanding that China not sign trade agreements with Cuba and Venezuela, Bush should have ended the blockade of Cuba and abandoned efforts for regime change in Venezuela. It is time that the U.S. itself becomes a truly responsible stakeholder in the world system.

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