Xi to meet Obama in Europe

Updated: 2014-03-18 11:01

By Zhou Wa in Beijing and Chen Weihua in Washington (China Daily USA)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet US President Barack Obama next week in the Netherlands on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit aimed at preventing nuclear terrorism in the world.

Vice-Foreign Minister Li Baodong described the upcoming first meeting between the two presidents this year as significant in the development of future China-US relations.

"China is willing to work with the United States to push for a fruitful outcome from the meeting of two heads of state," Li said.

The third Nuclear Security Summit will be held in The Hague next Monday and Tuesday.

Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security advisor for strategic communications, said on Monday that the US has a significant and broad agenda with China.

"That agenda benefits very much from regular communication at senior levels of our governments," said Rhodes.

The two leaders last met at the G20 in Russia, following their high-profile informal summit in June in Sunnylands, California.

Rhodes stressed that the China-US bilateral relationship is as important as any relationship in the world and China is a country the US cooperates with on a whole host of international issues.

Reiterating that the US welcomes the peaceful rise of China, which is in the service of global stability and greater prosperity of the two peoples and people of the region, Rhodes pointed out that the two nations also have differences on a host of issues.

"So it's a relationship that allows for both constructive cooperation and candor when we disagree," he said.

Douglas Paal, vice-president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the substance of the Xi-Obama meeting is likely to be dominated with how to deal with Russia's willingness to change borders in post-Cold War Europe by promoting the separation of Crimea from Ukraine.

"China's stance has been ambivalent. And Obama will want to get as much cooperation on sanctions against Moscow as possible. This will run up against China's traditional reluctance to engage in sanctions," Paal said.

Bonnie Glaser, a senior advisor for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, also expects the two presidents to focus on a small number of pressing issues at the summit.

"Ukraine and North Korea will likely be at the top of the list. While the views and approaches of the US and China do not coincide, there is some overlap and potential for greater cooperation," Glaser said.

Besides attending the nuclear summit and meeting Obama, Xi is expected to sign several cooperative agreements in manufacturing, finance, energy and cultural exchanges in a tour of Europe that experts said will set the tone for future ties.

Xi will be the first Chinese president to visit the Netherlands since the two countries established diplomatic ties in 1972.

From the Netherlands, he will travel to France and visit UNESCO headquarters. He will then make a stop in Germany before ending his tour in Belgium with a visit to the headquarters of the European Union in Brussels.

"China-Europe ties are developing smoothly in general," Vice-Foreign Minister Wang Chao said on Monday. "This visit will inject new energy into the long-term stable development of China-Europe ties and will be a milestone for relations."

Trade between China and the European Union reached $559 billion in 2013, according to Chinese statistics. The EU has been China's largest trade partner for 10 years, and China has been the second-largest trade partner of the 28-member bloc for 11 years.

In the Netherlands, Xi is expected to sign cooperative agreements in agriculture, energy, finance and culture and is slated to meet with King Willem-Alexander and Prime Minister Mark Rutte, Wang said.

In France, Xi will meet with President Francois Hollande and Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and sign agreements to boost China-France cooperation.

In Germany, Xi will meet with German President Joachim Gauck and Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, the first visit to Germany by a Chinese president in eight years. Xi is slated to sign a number of economic deals there.

China and Germany "have kicked ties into high gear over the past decade", said Yang Xiepu, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

In Belgium, Xi will meet with King Philippe and Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo and sign agreements in trade, science and technology and education.

Contact the writers at zhouwa@chinadaily.com.cn and chenweihua@chinadailyusa.com.

(China Daily USA 03/18/2014 page1)