Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (習近平) landed in Washington late on Monday for a week of talks that could set the tone of US-China relations over the next decade.
“This visit comes at a time of growing strategic distrust,” China watchers Kenneth Lieberthal and J. Stapleton Roy said in the Washington Post.
Lieberthal, director of the Thornton China Center and Roy, director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the US, said Beijing sees itself as strong enough to expect Washington “will no longer treat its core concerns with what it views as a bullying, dismissive attitude.”
“China is pressing its territorial claims in potentially energy-rich maritime areas in the East and South China Seas,” they said.
“China, arguably the world’s second most powerful country, is rankled by US diplomacy that it sees as emboldening people in Taiwan, Tibet and the huge northwestern region of Xinjiang to defy Beijing,” they said.
Lieberthal and Roy said that while both Washington and Beijing considered good bilateral relations to be “vital,” there was a danger their growing strategic rivalry could evolve into “mutual antagonism.”
They said that both sides should try to reach a set of understandings that included steps embodying mutual restraint on development and deployments of particularly destabilizing weapons systems.
“To improve trust, such discussions need to probe each side’s goals and expectations on such sensitive issues as the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan,” they wrote.
In a front-page news story, the Post said Xi’s visit was crucial to his political ascension and to US hopes for easing “mounting tensions.”
Daniel Blumenthal, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, wrote in a Foreign Policy magazine blog that “sustained dialogue” was needed over such matters as the “risks of the perennial flashpoints” like Taiwan.
“Effectively deterring Chinese aggression in the South China Sea enhances US efforts to encourage peaceful resolution of disputes there,” Blumenthal wrote.
“Once Beijing comes to believe that intimidating others will not achieve its goals, engagement with Washington improves,” he wrote.
At his first event after his arrival in Washington, Xi said the US should adopt “concrete measures to promote mutual trust.”
“We hope the US side could view China in an objective and rational way, and adopt concrete measures to promote mutual trust, especially to properly and discreetly handle the issues concerning the core interests of China,” he said in remarks carried by Xinhua news agency.
He spoke during a meeting with several former top US officials, including former US secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright.
Xi was due to meet US President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the White House yesterday before driving to the Pentagon for talks with Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. Later today, he will meet with congressional leaders before flying to Iowa.
Additional reporting by AFP