China's Xi Jinping to make first official visit to White House

Beijing: Chinese President Xi Jinping plans to make his first official visit to the US later this year to push for "new model" of major-country relations, amid strong American Asia-Pacific military push, which officials here say is aimed at containing the communist country.

 Chinas Xi Jinping to make first official visit to White House

Chinese President Xi Jinping with US President Barack Obama. Reuters

Arrangements are being made for Xi to pay his first state visit later this year to the United States, China's ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai told state-run China Daily.

While the date has yet to be released, discussion is ongoing between Beijing and Washington for Xi's expected trip, Cui said, noting that the two countries have carried out successful high-level interactions in recent years despite differences.

"We are also very willing to see such interactions continuing this year, and we may even have a greater success," Cui said.

61-year-old Xi's expected visit would be his first to the White House since taking office in March 2013.

It would also be the latest summit between him and Obama, following the informal summit in California in June 2013, and their meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meetings in Beijing last November.

US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on Friday US has invited Xi for a state visit to the country this year.

Commenting on Xi's visit, Chinese analysts said China will continue to push for a "new model of major-country relations," despite the US intention to further promote its "rebalancing" Asian strategy.

Chinese official media came out with scathing commentaries of China containment, when Obama made unprecedented second visit to India last month.

Zhou Wenzhong, former ambassador of China to the US, said that as international society is faced with an increasingly complicated situation, a healthy Sino-US relationship is key to ensure stability of the world order.

During Xi's trip, discussions will touch upon highly sensitive interactions, but neither of the world's largest economies will risk ties by seeking major confrontation, Chinese strategic analysts said.

The "new model of major-country relations" was a concept proposed by Xi during his visit to Washington in 2012.

Xi had said such a relationship would be characterised by mutual understanding and strategic trust, respecting each other's core interests, mutually beneficial cooperation, and enhancing cooperation and coordination in international affairs and on global issues.

Shi Yinhong, director of the Centre for American Studies at the Renmin University of China, told state-run Global Times that Sino-US relations will continue to improve with increased exchanges, ensuring the stability of the Asia-Pacific region.

During Xi's trip, the US will raise issues such as cyber security, but the main focus will be the Western Pacific region, said Yuan Zheng, a senior researcher on US foreign policy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Chinese experts noted that the recently unveiled 2015 US National Security Strategy rejected the notion of the "inevitability of confrontation" with China.

With Obama in the middle of his final term as president, Yuan said, "it seems much easier for him to score some points and leave a legacy in foreign affairs rather than domestic issues", so the emphasis on rebalancing in Asia would only increase.

Xi is not the only one invited to the US. Rice said other invitations have gone to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Indonesian President Joko Widodo — leaders of the major players in East Asia.

Shi said it is natural to see Washington arrange meetings with leaders from traditional treaty allies, such as Japan and South Korea.

But as "everyone knows from the nature of their relationships", those meetings should be seen as "separate issues" from the China-US summit.

"China has replaced the US as the leading economic influence over the Asia-Pacific region. (To counter that influence), the US is eager to reassert its influence in the security domain, insisting that it is still the key player in the region," Liu Weidong, a US studies expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.

Liu said the nature of Sino-US relations has so far not been clearly defined, and China is likely to seek to consolidate the notion during the summit between Xi and Obama.

"China and the US are neither allies nor enemies, and there has been conflicting information about the two countries' relations. Compared with China, the US has been less clear in its attitude toward Sino-US relations," said Liu.

PTI

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Updated Date: Feb 09, 2015 11:47:09 IST