Niall Ferguson coined the term "Chimerica" to describe the close and often bizarre co-dependence of the United States on China and vice versa over the past decade. Americans were China's consumer of choice, gobbling up hundreds of billions in Chinese-made stuff. China was our ATM, lending us hundreds of billions of dollars. It was fun while it lasted.
But "Chimerica" is still alive. The US and China are positioning themselves as the twin saviors of the world's economy. Just witness today's luvfest between President Obama and China's Communist Party boss Hu Jintao. Obama announced he would travel to Beijing next year to, according to the White House, "intensify coordination and cooperation on global economic and financial issues." Doesn't seem like any troublesome issues were mentioned. No mention of their squabbles over the Chinese yuan, China's recent assault on the dollar as the world's dominant currency or even the ugly stand-off between US and Chinese naval vessels a few weeks back.
Also, it seems that there's going to be a significant upgrading to the "Strategic Economic Dialogue" that was started by the Bush administration and managed by then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. It's been renamed the "Strategic and Economic Dialogue." The White House says Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner would represent the United States during those talks.
Zachary Karabell, writing in Outlook last weekend, argued that if China and America don't hang together, they're going to hang separately. Well, at least Obama will have some hang time in Beijing.