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Obama: Strong ties between U.S. and China help rest of the world
Also on the agenda: North Korea, Iran and Syria, following China’s decision last week to join Russia in vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution pressuring Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government over its violent crackdown on opponents.
But with Mr. Obama vying for re-election this November and Republican presidential front-runner Mitt Romney already accusing the incumbent of being soft on China, the administration will focus particularly on economic issues.
The primary American concern is likely to be Chinese trade-rule violations, but the U.S. also will reiterate problems with intellectual property theft and the value of China’s currency. The yuan has gained a little against the dollar in the past 1½ years but still is viewed by Washington as undervalued to boost the exports that drive China’s economy.
Despite the wide array of issues at hand, U.S. officials see Mr. Xi’s visit primarily as an investment in relationship-building, both on the personal level and to advance a three-year push for cooperative ties with Asia’s emerging superpower.
After his visit to China, Mr. Biden said he was impressed by Mr. Xi’s “openness and candor.” Mr. Xi has impeccable Communist Party credentials as the son of a famed revolutionary, but he is viewed as more able to make personal connections than Mr. Hu and more willing to step away from the traditional aloofness of Chinese high office.
After two days in Washington, Mr. Xi will travel to Iowa, where he will meet those who hosted him when he visited the Midwestern state as a county official on a 1985 study tour. He then travels to Los Angeles to meet more business leaders.
Mr. Hu visited the U.S. in 2002, also shortly before he became China’s leader, succeeding the more charismatic Jiang Zemin. As with Mr. Hu, the visit will give Mr. Xi a chance to burnish his credentials and show the audience back home he can manage ties with the U.S.
The intervening decade since Mr. Hu’s formative visit has seen big changes, with China now eclipsing Japan as the world’s second-largest economy and its military now posing a serious challenge to U.S. predominance in the western Pacific.
In written responses to The Washington Post on the eve of the visit, Mr. Xi emphasized the positive. He highlighted the profitability of U.S. companies in China and steps Beijing already has taken to address American economic concerns.
But he also made a dig at U.S. efforts to strengthen its military alliances in Asia — expressing what U.S. officials have said are hard-line personal views on China’s security, sovereignty and national dignity.
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