The Strategic and Economic Dialogue (SED), a negotiation framework created by the last Bush administration to facilitate cooperation and ease tension between two of the world’s most important economies, has been a success – particularly when compared with other diplomatic initiatives launched by George W. Bush. The most recent iteration of the SED came to a close yesterday without producing any world-rattling agreements, but it does appear that a modicum of oil was poured on the waters. China is nervous because almost one in 10 dollars the US borrows from foreign investors to spend on its stimulus package comes from China, and China is discovering that its role as US creditor #1 seems to give it precious little leverage to rein in or control US spending; a quick review of the stimulus package shows that Chinese money is being spent on a wide variety of pork projects. The US is nervous because of North Korea, the controlled condition of the renminbi and all that smog pouring out of Chinese smokestacks. The SED produced no firm agreements to address any of this, but it seems to have made everyone feel better about vacillating.
Not everyone, however, is vacillating. Discovery Communications, the US-based cable television content provider of safe, uncontroversial yet semi-educational programs on science, travel, nature and so on, is ramping up its China presence through a venture with mainland search engine monolith Baidu. The two companies have launched an online Discovery channel at Discovery.baidu.com. Lucky for Discovery that its content is so inoffensive; the Ministry of Culture is banning online video games featuring content glamorizing gangster lifestyles for fear it will corrupt the traditional values of netgame-addled Chinese youth. The ministry did not say whether it would ban games glamorizing the lifestyles of corrupt government officials.