Unwavering commitment

Updated: 2012-02-08 07:59

By Tao Wenzhao (China Daily)

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Xi's US visit will play a positive role in advancing Sino-US relations and a healthy and mutually beneficial partnership

Vice-President Xi Jinping will pay an official visit to the United States next week. The upcoming visit is of great significance for the two sides as they strive to maintain the good momentum of their relations in 2012.

President Hu Jintao and US President Barack Obama paid reciprocal visits, and agreed on two joint statements in November 2009 and January 2011, both of which not only reflected the development of bilateral relations, but also put forward ideas and measures for furthering relations. These two joint statements serve as important supplements to the three joint communiqus issued in the 1970s and 80s.

In April 2009, the two sides agreed to build a positive, friendly and cooperative Sino-US relationship, and in January 2011 the two presidents reaffirmed their commitment to building a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit, which was a new positive orientation for bilateral relations.

Vice-President Xi's visit will further promote the implementation of the consensus reached by the two heads of state, so that bilateral relations can progress steadily.

In August 2011, US Vice-President Joe Biden paid a successful visit to China, where he noted how much China has changed in recent years.

After his return to the United States, Biden published an article on the The New York Times website titled "China's Rise Isn't Our Demise", speaking glowingly of China, he rejected the view that China's growth is a threat, and said he remains convinced that both countries have a stake in each other's success. "A successful China can make our country more prosperous, not less," he wrote. His optimistic view and positive understanding of China reflects the truth of the bilateral relationship.

But over the years, although Beijing has been reiterating its commitment to peaceful development, some in the US still worry about China's intentions, and some deliberately promote a "China threat".

Xi's visit to the US is another opportunity for close contact between leaders from both sides. He will meet with US politicians, academics, business people and ordinary US citizens, and will visit Muscatine in Iowa where he led a delegation sent to study advanced hog-raising techniques in 1985.

Media coverage of Xi's visit will bring him to the attention of millions of US households, which will help the US public understand China.

The two countries are important trade partners and enjoy a high degree of interdependence, but there are also some inevitable trade frictions and disputes. Unfortunately, China is often the scapegoat for the US' economic downturn. This is especially evident in the electioneering by the Republican presidential candidates, and the Obama administration will likely follow suit, as it will not want to be put on the defensive over the economy by its opponents.

It is important that China and the US ignore the sloganeering and distractions of the campaigning and strive to maintain the stability of relations. Xi's visit is a good opportunity for leaders to conduct in-depth conversations, discuss the current world economic situation, and communicate on further promoting a comprehensive and mutually beneficial economic partnership.

Xi's visit should serve as a new driving force for bilateral economic and trade cooperation, and encourage both sides to properly handle economic and trade problems.

Currently, Sino-US relations contain a wide range of regional and global issues. But the priority of these issues is not the same for Beijing and Washington. High-level visits are a very important means for both sides to communicate and exchange views on these issues.

Issues such as the stability of the Korean Peninsula, Iran's nuclear program, and turbulence in Syria are likely to be put on the table. However, in view of the current world economic uncertainties and economic situation in the US, the visit will mainly focus on the economic front.

When Hu visited the US in 2011, the two heads of state established a number of new mechanisms for communication, such as the consultation mechanisms for regional issues and the China-US Governors Forum, all of which have been in successful practice.

Xi's visit will consolidate the existing mechanisms, and further expand bilateral cultural cooperation.

We hope Vice-President Xi's visit will be a complete success.

The author is a researcher at the Institute of American Studies, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

(China Daily 02/08/2012 page8)