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USA-China: Détente Or Cold War?

Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit to Washington this week could signal a thaw in relations between the United States and China, or proof that a new “Cold War” is around the corner

Chinese soldiers (Dominic Rivard)

Détente or Cold War, past clichés are inappropriate when discussing the complex relationship between the old superpower of the United States and the emerging one of China. But these are the words being used as Chinese President Hu Jintao embarks on a closely watched visit to Washington.

When veteran political scientist and diplomat Henry Kissinger writes an article in The Washington Post headlined "Avoiding a U.S.-China Cold War", it means the danger of this happening is real. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made assurances for her part that the United States is not trying to "contain China", as was the case with the Soviet Union following the Second World War.

On the Chinese side, President Hu has called for a thawing of relations, asking his U.S. hosts to abandon the "zero-sum Cold war mentality".

This return to language reminiscent of the Soviet Union era reflects the climate of distrust in the air, even if the purpose of Hu's visit is to mark improved relations between the two nations. The White House state dinner scheduled for Wednesday will, in any case, be presented in Beijing as evidence that the People's Republic is finally being treated as an equal by the United States.

The Chinese people's perception of their place in the world is changing faster than the impression given by their representatives.

The test flight of a stealth fighter in China on the day U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was visiting Beijing last week, was seen as yet another worrying Cold War sign, as well as an indication of the aggressive stance of the People Liberation Army, which appears to be marking its autonomy in relation to civil powers.

The Chinese president for his part is not ready to agree to any of the demands being made by the new Republican-dominated Congress. Instead, has sent mixed messages recently about policy toward currency values in both China and the United States.

If China wants to transcend this heritage, ensuring at the same time that the United States doesn't fall back on reflexes of a bygone era, the country will need to unite with those who are seeking to move things forward.

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Migrant Lives

Latin America's Migrants Trying To Reach The U.S.: Risk It All, Fail, Repeat

Searching for a safe home, many Latin American migrants are forced to try, time after time, getting turned away, and then risk everything again.

Photograph of thousands of migrants marching  to the US-Mexican border under the rain.

06 June 2022, Mexico, Tapachula: Thousands of migrants set off north on foot under the rain.

Daniel Diaz/ZUMA
Alejandra Pataro

BUENOS AIRES — With gangsters breathing down his neck, Maynor sold all of his possessions in Honduras, took his wife and three kids aged 11, 8 and 5, and set out northwards. He was leaving home for good, for the third time.

"I had to leave my country several times," he said, "but was deported." He was now trying to enter the U.S. again, but the family had become stuck in Mexico: "Things are really, really bad for us right now."

Migration in Latin America is no longer a linear process, taking migrants from one place to another. It goes in several directions. Certain routes will take you to one country as a stopover to another, but really, it's more a lengthy ordeal than a layover, and the winners are those who can find that receptive, welcoming community offering work and a better life.

The aid agency Doctors Without Borders (MSF) calls this an international, multidirectional phenomenon that may include recurring trips to and from a home country.

Marisol Quiceno, MSF's Advocacy chief for Latin America, told Clarín that migrants "are constantly looking for opportunities and for food security, dignified work opportunities (and) healthcare access." These are the "minimum basics of survival," she said, adding that people will keep looking if they did not find them the first time around.

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