China’s leader-in-waiting to woo US
REUTERS BEIJING CHINA and the US should cooperate more closely to defuse international crises and ensure friction does not overwhelm shared interests, China’s likely next president, Xi Jinping, said on Monday, setting an upbeat tone for his impending visit to Washington.
“No matter what changes affect the international situation, our commitment to developing the Sino-US coperative partnership should never waver in the face of passing developments,” Vice President Xi told a meeting in Beijing.
“In dealing with major and sensitive issues that concern each side’s core interests, we must certainly abide by a spirit of mutual respect and handle them prudently, and by no means can we let relations again suffer major interference and ructions.” Xi’s mood-setting speech did not unveil new policies or give the precise date for his US visit.
But he stressed Beijing’s desire for steady relations for his visit and his accession to running the world’s second biggest economy after America’s.
Xi’s growing seniority indicates that he is virtually certain to replace Hu Jintao as Chinese Communist Party chief in late 2012 and then replace him as state president in early 2013.
His trip to the US will be important for burnishing his credentials, and Washington is also hungry for clues of about his worldview. The official China Daily last week said Xi (pronounced like “shee”) is likely to make his trip in February. Neither government has named a date.
“I will soon visit the US at the invitation of Vice-President Biden, and I hope that my visit can play a positive role in advancing the Sino-US cpartnership,” Xi told the gathering of diplomats and scholars commemorating 40 years since US President Richard Nixon made his historic, ice-breaking trip to China in 1972.
Xi was accompanied by Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s national security adviser in 1972, who was instrumental in that trip. Yet even with Xi’s upbeat tone, he will have plenty of disagreements to wrestle with in Washington and later on. Ties between Beijing and Washington have been buffeted by strains over trade, regional policy and military intentions that could be complicated this year by China’s leadership succession and the US presidential race.
The US has repeatedly complained about its big trade deficit with China, which many US lawmakers says is swelled by Beijing’s controls holding down the value of its yuan currency.
Beijing has chided the Obama administration for policies that Chinese official said could undermine the value of their huge holdings of dollardenominated assets.
Washington has urged China to explain more clearly how it could use its rapidly modernizing military forces.
Beijing has voiced its own misgivings about the Pentagon’s plans to shore up US military strength across the Asia-Pacific region. Beijing also seethes at US arms sales to Taiwan, the self-ruled island that China calls an illegitimate breakaway province.
Beijing and Washington disagree on how to deal with Iran and North Korea, with the US and its allies favoring firmer use of sanctions and pressure.
Xi nevertheless said Beijing and Washington could find common ground over diplomatic crises, as well as climate change and energy, trade, and the direction of global economic growth. Xi, who speaks a clear Mandarin accent, said China’s “core interests” should be respected, but stressed room for cooperation and a desire to avoid