An upcoming summit with US President Barack Obama comes at a “critical juncture” in relations between China and the US, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) said yesterday, underscoring the challenge they face in confronting divisive security issues and overcoming growing distrust.
Xi told US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon — who was in Beijing to prepare for the June 7 to June 8 meeting — that he expected positive results from the talks, which will be their first face-to-face meeting since Obama’s re-election and Xi’s promotion to general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in November last year.
“The current China-US relationship is at a critical juncture,” Xi said, adding that the sides must now “build on past successes and open up new dimensions for the future.”
In a sign that both sides want to stem a drift in ties, the summit is taking place months earlier than the two presidents were supposed to meet. The setting — at the private Sunnylands estate of the late publishing tycoon Walter Annenberg in southern California — is supposed to be informal, giving Xi and Obama a chance to build a rapport.
Donilon flew to Beijing on Sunday to prepare an agenda and straighten out other technical issues.
He told Xi that Obama is “firmly committed to building a relationship defined by higher levels of practical cooperation and greater levels of trust, while managing whatever differences and disagreements might arise between us.”
Meeting earlier with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi (楊潔篪), China’s senior foreign policy official, Donilon said the summit is a chance for the two presidents to work through problems. Though they did not identify those challenges in their public remarks, ties are strained across the board, from longstanding differences over the Iranian and North Korean nuclear programs to new disputes over cyberattacks and China’s more assertive pursuit of territorial claims against US allies Japan and the Philippines.
“The meeting will be an important opportunity for our presidents to have in-depth discussions about US-China relations, and a wide range of global and regional challenges facing both our countries,” Donilon said.