Officials pave way for Xi's autumn visit

Updated: 2015-08-11 07:57

By Zhao Yinan(China Daily USA)

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Advance exchanges plan to focus on South China Sea, cybersecurity issues

China and the United States will send officials to each other in preparation for the upcoming September state visit by President Xi Jinping.

Analysts said that these senior officials are to assess the impact of recent escalated tension on cybersecurity and South China Sea prior to Xi's visit.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Monday that several senior US officials will visit China in August and September, while officials from China will visit the US in preparation for Xi's visit, the first state visit by a Chinese president since 2011.

Niu Jun, a professor of international relations at Peking University, said that apart from finalizing the schedule and ceremonial details of Xi's visit, the officials are likely to exchange views on cybersecurity and the South China Sea, issues that have raised tensions since the visit was officially announced in February.

"Reports in the US media accusing China of being the biggest online hacking suspect have made cybersecurity a top issue in bilateral relations at the moment; and the voice doesn't seem to be lowered despite the upcoming visit of State leaders," Niu said.

"As for the issue of South China Sea, the two sides are still working to find a solution acceptable to both to control the regional situation," he added.

He said the advance officials will assess the impact of these issues on bilateral relations and the social atmosphere, as well as decide whether these topics should be put high on the agenda of the State visit.

He said it is a tradition to send officials ahead of significant leadership trips to help ensure that arrangements are carried out smoothly.

China-US relations warmed after US President Barack Obama visited Beijing in November. The leaders of the world's two largest economies had a one-on-one talk that has lasted for almost five hours in the Zhongnanhai leadership compound.

In March 2014, US first lady Michelle Obama and the couple's two daughters completed a seven-day visit to China.

More recently, controversy has been stirred up by reports carried by The New York Times in which China was accused of stealing the personal information of millions of individuals.

In addition, tensions have been growing over South China Sea. China has expressed concerns about US military surveillance overflights, and US officials have criticized China's construction on the Nansha Islands.

Wang Fan, professor of international relations at China Foreign Affairs University, said that China is planning during Xi's visit to formulate policy orientations for the coming decade.

The two nations will reach strategic agreements to lay the foundation of future bilateral relations, Wang said.

One consensus that the two countries reached in the past is that neither China nor the US benefits from confrontation, and cooperation is the best approach to develop interdependent relations, he said.

"The US has to understand the growing power of China and not misread its peaceful pursuit of higher international status and clout," he said.

He said bilateral relations have evolved along with the diminishing gap in national strength, while tensions have risen alongside deepened cooperation. Agreements achieved on the upcoming visit will stabilize bilateral relations in the future, he said.

(China Daily USA 08/11/2015 page3)