Chinese Press Hails Xi Tour, Lauds US Relationship

Posted February 15th, 2012 at 6:50 am (UTC-5)
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Chinese state media on Wednesday carried glowing accounts of Vice President Xi Jinping's high-profile visit to Washington, describing the U.S.-China relationship as the most important in the world.

The influential Global Times newspaper also noted that Xi's meeting Tuesday with U.S. President Barack Obama fell on Valentine's Day, saying the timing suggests a romantic atmosphere across the Pacific Ocean.

Xi's government has been deeply embarrassed by a series of self-immolations by Tibetans protesting Chinese policies. But during his White House meetings Tuesday, the man slated to be China's next leader said his country will continue to advance the “tremendous and well-recognized” achievements on human rights it has made in recent decades.

“Given China's huge population, considerable regional diversity and uneven development, we are still faced with many challenges in improving people's livelihood and advancing human rights. The Chinese government will always put people's interests first and take seriously people's aspirations and demands. We will in the light of China's national conditions, continue to take concrete and effective policies and measures to promote social fairness, justice and harmony and push forward China's cause of human rights.”

But Phelim (FEE'-lim) Kine, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch told VOA Wednesday there was nothing new in Xi's remarks and complained that U.S. officials had not identified Chinese human rights victims by name.

“Vice President Xi Jinping's comments on China's human rights situation are tried-and-true boiler plate comments, which Chinese leaders make on every visit to the United States.”

Economic issues were expected to move to the forefront Wednesday, when Xi delivers what is billed as the major policy address of his four-day visit to the U.S.-China Business Council in Washington. A number of China's most prominent corporate leaders have accompanied Xi on the trip.

Xi will also meet with Congressional leaders and then travel later Wednesday to Iowa. He will also travel to California before completing his U.S. visit on Friday.

Mr. Obama assured Xi on Tuesday that the United States welcomes China's rise in the world, but said all countries must follow the same rules when it comes to the world economic system and human rights.

Hosting Xi in the Oval Office, Mr. Obama said China's extraordinary development over the last two decades has brought it expanding power and prosperity, but also “increased responsibilities.”

“We want to work with China to make sure that everybody is working by the same rules of the road when it comes to the world economic system. And that includes ensuring that there is a balanced trade flow between not only the United States and China, but around the world. It also means that on critical issues like human rights, we will continue to emphasize what we believe is the importance of recognizing the aspirations and rights of all people.”

The visit is being closely watched in both countries, as Xi is expected to become China's Communist Party leader later this year and president in 2013.

Vice President Joe Biden said at a State Department luncheon Tuesday that the ability of both sides to speak candidly about differences is a “sign of the strength and maturity” of the U.S.-China relationship.

“We saw this in the recent U.N. Security Council debate about Syria where we strongly disagreed with China and Russia's veto of a resolution against the unconscionable violence being perpetrated by the Assad regime.”

Despite the acknowledgement of differences, the meetings were warm and focused on cooperation. Mr. Obama said a cooperative relationship between the two powers based on mutual respect is in the interests of the world.

Xi is spending much of his time with Biden, who visited China as Xi's guest in August and is the visitor's official host.

The United States is also using Xi's visit to reassure Beijing that the “pivot” in U.S. military power toward Asia is not meant to contain China's rise.

Xi was honored with a 19-gun salute when he visited the Pentagon Tuesday afternoon. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta greeted him on the buildings north steps, accompanied by parading soldiers.

In an interview published Monday in The Washington Post, Xi warned against a U.S. military build-up in Asia, even while maintaining that there is “ample” room in the Pacific region for both countries.

After his arrival, he said the United States should take “concrete measures to promote mutual trust” between the two countries.