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Obama lining up allies to pressure China

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1 Obama lining up allies to pressure China on Mon Oct 25, 2010 10:22 pm

littlekracker


Obama lining up allies to pressure China

By Mark Landler and Sewell Chan

New York Times
Posted: 10/25/2010 05:34:48 PM PDT
Updated: 10/25/2010 06:20:59 PM PDT

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration, facing a vexing relationship with China on exchange rates, trade and security issues, is stiffening its approach toward Beijing, seeking allies to confront a newly assertive power that officials say has little intention of working with the United States.

In a shift from its assiduous one-on-one courtship of Beijing, the administration is trying to line up coalitions -- among China's next-door neighbors and far-flung trading partners -- to present Chinese leaders with a unified front on thorny issues like the currency and their country's territorial claims in the South China Sea.

The advantages and limitations of this new approach were on display during the weekend at a meeting of the world's largest economies in South Korea. The U.S. won support for a concrete pledge to reduce trade imbalances, which will put more pressure on China to allow its currency to rise in value.

But Germany, Italy and Russia balked at a U.S. proposal to place numerical limits on these imbalances, a step that would have further isolated Beijing.

Administration officials speak of an alarming loss of trust and confidence between China and the United States over the past two years, forcing them to scale back hopes of working with the Chinese on major challenges like climate change, nuclear nonproliferation and a new global economic order.

The latest source of tension is over reports that China is withholding
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shipments of rare-earth minerals, which the United States uses to make advanced equipment like guided missiles. U.S. officials, clearly worried, said they did not know whether Beijing's motivation was strategic or economic.

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