Biden in China to assess Sino-US business ties

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U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden gestures to Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping during the welcoming ceremony inside the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Photo - Lintao Zhang/AP

US Vice President Joseph Biden’s trip to China is a reciprocation of Chinese top leaders visit to the US, according to a White House statement. Biden will be heading to Mongolia and Japan after the trip to Beijing. Leaders of both the countries will discuss a broad range of issues such as bilateral trade, currency, and Chinese investment in the United States. However, Bidens main objective is to establish ties with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, who is considered to take the reins of the country when the transformation begins next year.

Biden is slated to attend two formal meetings and a banquet with Mr. Xi Jinping in Beijing, after which Mr. Xi will join him on a visit to Dujiangyan, a city in the western province of Sichuan that was devastated by an earthquake in 2008. US officials also confirmed that Mr. Xi will also share an “informal dinner” with Mr. Biden in a restaurant in the provincial capital, Chengdu.

Little is known about Mr Xi other than his official biography; although,WikiLeaks published that he had a taste for Hollywood World War II movies. In a speech in Mexico, Mr Xi pointed fingers at Washington saying “foreigners, with full bellies, who have nothing better to do than try to point fingers at our country.”

Xi is considered the likely successor to President Hu Jintao. Chinese and U.S. officials alike will scrutinize his official pronouncements for hints on how he regards the bilateral relationship, and what change he is likely to bring to the Chinese economy.

Antony Blinken, national security adviser to Mr. Biden, said in a conference call with reporters: “Simply put, we’re investing in the future of the U.S.-China relationship.” He added that one of the primary purposes of the trip is to get to know “China’s future leadership and build a relationship with Vice President Xi”.

USChina relations

President Hu Jintaos recent visit to the US has given a fresh start to the relationship between the two countries. After his meeting with Mr Obama, Mr Hu stated that a new chapter in the relationship between the two countries has been opened and the past troubled relationship is put behind.

Analysts believe Mr. Hus visit was to build a constructive relationship with the White House by offering some modest concessions. Surprisingly, Mr. Hu admitted at a White House news conference that a lot still needs to be done in China in terms of human rights.

Chinese views differ with the US on sensitive issues such as long-running disputes over trade, intellectual property, human rights, arms sale to Taiwan and continued support to Tibetan leader Dalai Lama.

Chu Shulong, a professor of international relations at Beijing’s Tsinghua University believes most people appreciate the more cautious US approach on arms sales to Taiwan. “China understands the reality that the US cannot stop all arms sales to Taiwan,” he said in an interview.

Though both countries continued wide-ranging consultations, the atmosphere in bilateral relations remains tense. China has been an opponent of the US security strategy in Asia Pacific. With Beijing openly accusing the Americans of trying to inhibit the growth of Chinese power, the meetings this week will reveal Chinas capacity and readiness to test larger possibilities with the US and the prospects of bilateral ties.

Sources: Wall Street Journal, CNN, The China Times, NY Times, brookings.edu/opinions

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