Xi and Obama Meet

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Handshake of the titans

 

 

Chinese President Xi Jinping is all set to meet his US counterpart, Barrack Obama, to discuss matters confronting both economic giants and shape their future relationship.

On his first state visit to the US, Chinese President Xi Jinping landed in the US last week with a message for President Obama; that China wants a long-term friendly partnership with the superpower to jointly foster efforts to stabilise the world economy and push forward the goals of global peace and development.

President Xi arrived at the US West Coast technology and aviation hub of Seattle on Tuesday morning, starting his first state visit to the country. In his major policy speech delivered at the welcoming banquet hosted by the local government of Washington State and American friendly groups, Xi also responded to concerns from the international community about China’s current economic situation and the development path it will pursue.

Though the official visit has just started, President Xi has been successful in expanding his country’s cooperation with the US, as both countries have already agreed to showcase their cooperation on climate change, with a deal on carrying out a broad emissions accord they struck last year in Beijing.

There will also be agreement on a code of conduct to reduce the risk of accidents between American and Chinese aircraft, and steps to expand educational exchanges between the two countries.

President Xi arrived at the US West Coast technology and aviation hub of Seattle on Tuesday morning, starting his first state visit to the country

During their landmark meeting scheduled during the upcoming week, President Obama and President Xi are likely to take up contentious issues like climate change, cyber-espionage, island-building in the South China Sea, and tightened controls on foreign businesses and nongovernmental organisations operating in China.

It would be a real test of vision and courage for President Obama to make any major decision over the contentious issues with President Xi. Obama is already under pressure on the domestic front from pro-Israel lobbies over the Iran deal and public demonstrations over police brutalities against African-Americans.

President Xi in contrast is riding a high popularity wave amongst his countrymen and his clear vision and steadfast reforms have earned him international fame. During the past four years, Mr Xi has successfully launched a massive anti-graft campaign which have helped raised his stature amongst world leaders. Besides, Mr Xi is known as a reformer who has no fears on taking risks in pursuing his objectives.

Since landing in the US, President Xi has started to impress audiences and critics simultaneously. In his first speech made during a welcoming banquet in Seattle, Washington, President Xi Jinping said China will stay committed to steady economic growth, reform, opening-up, rule of law, anti-corruption endeavours and the path of peaceful development.

He also warned the US leadership against conspiracies to trigger discord and misunderstanding between the world’s two major economic giants. “China’s economy will stay on a steady course with fairly fast growth… The key to China’s development lies in reform… China will never close its open door to the outside world,” the president pledged.

The apprehensions by the Chinese president are not out of place as prominent US media outlets made deliberate efforts to trigger skirmishes between China and US ahead of the meeting between President Obama and President Xi.

However, the visionary Chinese president scuttled all such efforts, calling upon the world’s two largest economies to read each other’s strategic intentions correctly and manage their differences properly and effectively.

Ahead of his visit to US, President Xi dispatched Meng Jianzhu, his close Communist Party adviser and head of state security, to make a highly unusual trip to Washington, along with some 50 aides, to remove all US apprehensions. Negotiations are also underway on embracing a set of rules, expected to be vague in their first iteration, that commit both countries to “no first use” of cyber weapons against each other’s critical infrastructure in peacetime.

As part of his suggestions on building a new model of major-country relationship between China and the United States, Mr Xi also proposed that they unswervingly boost win-win cooperation and extensively foster friendship between their people.

“We want to see more understanding and trust, less estrangement and suspicion, in order to forestall misunderstanding and miscalculation,” President Xi told the gathering in Seattle.

The Chinese leader believes in building a new model of major-country relationship, featuring non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, which are the cornerstones of China’s foreign policy.

In a bid to properly and effectively manage differences between the two world powers, President Xi has proposed that the two sides respect each other, seek common ground while reserving differences, take a constructive approach to enhance understanding and expand consensus, and spare no effort to turn differences into areas of cooperation.

The president said the two countries should firmly advance wide-ranging cooperation, noting that cooperation requires mutual accommodation of each other’s interests and concerns and the quest of the greatest common ground of converging interests.

“If China and the United States cooperate, they can become the bedrock of global stability and a booster of world peace,” he said. “Should they enter into conflict or confrontation, it would lead to disaster for both countries and the world at large.”

On the people-to-people exchanges, Xi announced that China supports the initiative of sending a total of 50,000 Chinese and American students to study in each other’s countries over the next three years, saying the two countries will launch a China-US Year of Tourism in 2016.

During their landmark meeting scheduled during the upcoming week, President Obama and President Xi are likely to take up contentious issues like climate change, cyber-espionage, island-building in the South China Sea, and tightened controls on foreign businesses and nongovernmental organisations operating in China

“China on its part will create more favourable conditions for closer people-to-people exchanges,” he stressed.

CCTV, China’s state broadcaster, reported that Mr Xi’s visit would improve business ties between the two countries and narrow differences over protectionist policies and online security including the issue of trade and investment in technology sectors by American companies.

Discord and apprehensions between Beijing and Washington over South China Sea would top the agenda of the Obama-Xi meeting. China places this high on its agenda and is expected to give little ground on its stand that it has “indisputable” sovereignty over large portions of the waterway.

The US claims freedom of navigation for its own ships and those of its allies in one of the busiest commercial waterways in the world.

The State Department has asked Beijing not to increase construction of military facilities on controversial islands. China considers itself to have sovereign rights over about 80 percent of the South China Sea. It is unlikely that the two sides will bridge their differences, but they may agree to try to manage them.

Cyber-security is one of the major issues to be discussed between the two leaders. The State Department wants China to clampdown on intellectual property theft and espionage. The United States is contemplating sanctions against Chinese hackers, and to fend these off, a senior Chinese security official visited Washington recently for talks. China has not only acted against the hackers and violators of the intellectual property theft, it is also in touch with the US administration to ensure no breach is made.

China’s new national security law is another issue to be discussed. China says this law is necessary to meet a range of emerging threats, including terrorism and online espionage. The US, however, has raised fears that it will infringe on the ability of American businesses to operate in ways to which they are accustomed. US also has concerns about legislation that would require nongovernmental organisations to find official sponsors in China.

Mr Xi had also announced to developing a “great power relationship” with the United States in year 2012, when he was still vice president. Washington has resisted this, partly because China would press the US to respect China’s core interests in places like Tibet and the South China Sea.

Hence, the landmark first visit by President Xi Jinping is likely to foster mutual understanding and cooperation, expanding the outreach of Chinese entrepreneurs deep into US markets and other states of the region and most importantly removing disagreements and fears in the US about China’s ambitious plans and economic domination.