Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping Visits Washington, DC
February 16, 2012
By: Garrett Nada | Printer Friendly
On February 14, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping visited Washington, DC and met with United States President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a Chinese effort to build a relationship "based on mutual respect." According to the BCC, the 58-year-old Xi is likely to succeed China’s President Hu Jintao in 2013.
The visit comes at a time when relations between China and the US are strained due to China’s crackdown on protests in Tibet, the veto of the United Nations resolution on Syria, the devaluing of its currency, theft of intellectual property and continued human rights abuses. The New York Times reported that Biden presented these grievances during a toast at a State Department lunch. He said, “As Americans, we welcome competition… But cooperation, as you and I have spoken about, can only be mutually beneficial if the game is fair.”
Xi echoed statements of other Chinese officials, reiterating demands for “mutual respect” and he also urged the US to not adopt protectionist policies. He did admit that despite China’s progress over the last few decades, there is still “room for improvement” on human rights. New York Times reporters observed Biden’s quips softened the tense mood in the room a few times.
During Xi’s visit to the White House earlier in the day, Obama raised many of the same issues as Biden and Clinton. The BBC’s Kim Ghattas said that Obama was warm but firm during the meeting in the Oval Office, saying that he welcomes China’s “peaceful rise,” but wants “to make sure that everybody is working by the same rules of the road when it comes to the world economic system.”
At the same time, pro-Tibet demonstrators held a rally outside of the White House. They waved Tibetan flags, held up signs that read “Xi Jinping: Tibet will be free.” The Voice of America reported that people protested China’s military, policies toward Taiwan and its human rights abuses. Geng He, the wife of Gao Zhisheng, a human rights-lawyer who disappeared almost two years ago, addressed the protestors. She said: “There are many, many victims of violation of human rights in China and I [am] standing here as a vivid example of the human-rights situation in China.”
While in Washington, Xi also visited the Pentagon to speak with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin E. Dempsey. On Wednesday, he met with congressional leaders and then flew to Iowa, which he first visited in 1985 as a country official learning bout crop and livestock practices. He will spend the rest of the week in Los Angeles before moving on to Ireland and Turkey.
For previous news on China, please see:
China Releases Prominent Activists
BBC - China Vice-President Xi Jinping in US visit
The New York Times - With Edge, U.S. Greets China’s Heir Apparent
The Voice of America - Obama, Xi Jinping Pledge Strengthened Ties, Candor