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Momentous Days for US-China Ties

November 2014 may be seen some day as a month to remember for US-China relations, as the two countries announced multiple important, even if somewhat symbolic, agreements related to trade, tourism and the environment.

With President Barack Obama in Beijing as part of the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit, leaders from East and West engaged in talks and photo ops galore, but also managed to slip in several interesting and unprecedented policy developments.

Highlighting the summit takeaways—from a popular media perspective—was the news that the US and China have agreed to work together to cut emissions in an effort to slow the negative effects of climate change. But perhaps a more significant step was taken when the two large nations revealed looser visa restrictions making it easier for citizens to travel to each country, and for longer periods.

Obama and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping also announced a deal to remove a variety of trade tariffs on high-tech goods, paving the way for an expansion of the Information Technology Agreement which keeps taxes and tariffs down on the global movement of IT products. Also significant was the news that China and the US have reached a military accord centered on avoiding high seas clashes over disputed island territories.

These initiatives, taken collectively, demonstrate progress in the relationship between the world’s two largest economies, and signal a tighter integration between the US and China in matters affecting the world economy.

In particular, the visa requirements changes should have a huge effect on tourism, education and business travel. For the first time, visitors from both countries will now be able to attain 10-year visas for tourism and 5-year visas for studying. These new regulations give recognition to the growth in travel between the US and China and reflect the increasing demand of their citizens to learn more about each nation.

Sticky political, economic and cultural issues between China and the US remain, but the agreements reached this week would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. Though the full effects of each of these developments are uncertain, it is clear that the two most powerful countries on earth are mutually interested in the promotion of peace, stability, commerce and dialogue.

And we should all be excited about these prospects. A friendship between two global super powers built on trust and good business offers a range of opportunities for the intrepid and the curious, while offering a boon for the entire world in terms of increased security and prosperity.

This piece originally appeared here: http://jmgasia.com/blog/momentous-days-for-us-china-ties

Questions or comments? Please email Michael Fenton at mfenton@atlantapacificgroup.com