Xi' s US visit productive, steering major-country ties to maturity

Source:Xinhua Published: 2015-9-28 15:50:13

During his first state visit to the United States on Sept. 22-25, Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Barack Obama discussed a variety of issues crucial to the development of bilateral ties and reached broad consensus on continuing to build a new model of major-country relationship between the two countries.

The Chinese government and Xi himself have been explicit about the purpose of this US trip -- to promote mutual trust and win-win cooperation between the two global heavyweights.

Increasing interdependence between the two countries and their interwoven interests make China-US confrontation unbearable for both sides with strong implications for the rest of the world, as the two countries jointly account for a third of global economic output, a fourth of global population and a fifth of global trade.

New paradigm of major-country relations

Building a new model of major-country relationship with the United States that features non-conflict, non-confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation is the priority of China's foreign policy, Xi said in a speech in Seattle, the first stop of his landmark US visit.

On many occasions during the visit, he stressed the vital importance of steering bilateral relations away from mistakes of strategic miscalculation and towards closer cooperation.

The Chinese leader rejected the notion held by believers of the Thucydides trap that the two countries are doomed to clash.

He put forward a four-point proposal for the two sides to avoid the old-pattern collision between a rising power and an established power.

"These are very thoughtful. The first -- to read each other's strategic intentions correctly, is especially important," said Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Kissinger Associates and former undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment.

It is crucial to avoid misunderstandings and help ensure a dialogue that is deeper than "just responding to headlines or assumptions," Hormats added.

With the right choices, conflict is not inevitable between the two leading global players, Harvard professor Joseph Nye said.

As many experts and observers have noted, China and the United States have far more common interests than differences and the world's most important bilateral relationship is heading towards maturity.

The fact that the two sides have taken concrete steps to tackle some of the most sensitive issues in bilateral ties shows that both countries do not want to let specific problems poison the overall atmosphere of China-US relations.

Productive and fruitful

The summit of Xi and Obama is deemed as "extremely productive and fruitful" as it has yielded a series of agreements and extensive consensuses on boosting cooperation on a wide range of bilateral, regional and global issues.

A long list of 49 tangible results was produced by the two sides, with new and important progress in such areas as investment, people-to-people exchanges, climate change, and coordination and cooperation in multilateral affairs.

The two heads of state issued a China-US joint presidential statement on climate change, reiterating their resolve to work together towards an ambitious, successful outcome of the upcoming climate conference in Paris.

The statement, a highlight of Xi' s visit to Washington, specifies new steps the two sides will take to deliver on pledges made last year to slash their greenhouse gas emissions.

These include China' s decision to launch a national carbon cap-and-trade system in 2017 to help contain the country' s emissions, and establish a 20-billion-yuan (3.1-billion-US-dollar) fund to help other developing countries combat and adapt to climate change.

Development charity Oxfam described China' s significant financial pledge as a "game-changer," and the environmental group World Resources Institute said it was a "watershed moment" in decades of climate agreement negotiations.

Not shying away from hot-button issues, the two sides also reached important consensus on their joint fight against cyber crimes, agreeing to step up investigation assistance and information sharing on cyber crime cases, and establish a high-level dialogue mechanism to address the issue.

The agreement on cyber security has been applauded by experts as a "significant and welcome development."

"This is a very important agreement," commented James Lewis, director and senior fellow of the Strategic Technologies Program at the US Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"It has the potential to end a serious source of friction between the US and China. Both sides were flexible and frank," Lewis said.

The two countries also agreed to vigorously push forward negotiations and accelerate work for achieving a high-standard, mutually beneficial and win-win bilateral investment treaty (BIT).

As for the development of bilateral military-to-military relations, the two sides completed new annexes on air-to-air safety and crisis communications. At the invitation of the United States Pacific Command, the Chinese Navy will participate in the RIMPAC-2016 joint naval drills.

The two countries have also decided to designate 2016 as the China-US Year of Tourism. China pledged to support a total of 50,000 Chinese and American students to study in each other's country, and welcomed the US move to provide opportunities for as many as 1 million American students to learn Chinese by 2020.

People-to-people engagement

Xi chose Seattle as the first stop of his US tour for its long-enjoyed robust economic links and close people-to-people ties with China.

"I have come to the United States to deepen friendship between our two peoples," Xi said in a written statement delivered at the airport upon his arrival.

A major gateway for trade with Asia and a sister city of the southwestern Chinese metropolitan of Chongqing, Seattle hosted Chinese leaders Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao in the past several decades.

While visiting the Lincoln High School in the US port city of Tacoma, Xi -- without a tie -- presented gifts to the students there, including books on China, a ping-pong table, and his personal invitation for the students to visit China.

He was warmly welcomed by the students from the school and also from nearby schools, who crowded the campus. He even received a football and a personalized jersey bearing his name and "No.1" on the back.

He encouraged the students to tour his country, saying "through travel, you will know China better, and hopefully you will like China."

"He is open. He talks sports with us. He is very friendly," said Alvin Johnson, a member of the school's football team.

At a welcoming dinner hosted by local governments and friendly organizations in Seattle on Sept. 22, Xi delivered a speech on China-US relations which left a deep impression on many people.

"The president's speech was outstanding. He really made it very clear that it's important to have mutual respect, mutual understanding," said Dr. Constance W. Rice, a regent of the Seattle-based University of Washington.

"I was highly impressed by the speech that he made, quite inspirational I believe. And I quite enjoy that he talked about his personal life and about his background, and how he came from a poor place and lived in caves, and how he went back and wanted to bring the standard of life up for all the people in China. I thought that was really a noble thing for him to be saying," said Geoff Otterman, a senior executive of British multinational Johnson Matthey which has major operations in the United States.

Glamorous and elegant in the eyes of foreign statesmen and diplomats, China's first lady, Peng Liyuan's presence made the state visit more about the people and added color to the traditional political and economic agenda.

While the Chinese president engaged in close talks with Obama, she stayed in the public eye, participating in cultural activities.

In fact, the first lady has always valued people-to-people engagement between different cultures.

"Cultural and educational exchanges are very important to strengthening the mutual understanding and friendship between the Chinese and US people and promoting the development of bilateral relations," Peng told US first lady Michelle Obama during her visit in Beijing last year.

While visiting the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center on Wednesday, Peng said the center' s contributions have helped many people get a chance "to live longer and better lives."

A World Health Organization goodwill ambassador for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, Peng called for closer China-US healthcare collaboration and underlined the importance of stepping up global healthcare cooperation.

During their visits, the Chinese first couple always tried to reach out extensively to American people from all walks of life.

Although the world's top two economies have differences on some issues, they have witnessed frequent bilateral people-to-people engagement, with 43 pairs of sister provinces/states and 200 pairs of sister cities having been established. About 4.3 million mutual visits were made last year, and there is a flight between the two sides every 17 minutes.

Xinhua reporters Sun Mei, Zhong Cuihua in Beijing, Zhou Xiaozheng, Liu Jie in US contributed to the story.

Posted in: Diplomacy

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