Obama To Address Asia Pivot With China's Xi Jinping
by: Michele Kelemen, NPR, February 14, 2012 3:02:00 am
The man who is expected to become China's next president begins his highly anticipated meetings in Washington Tuesday. Vice President Joe Biden is hosting Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping and will be taking him to the White House, the State Department and the Pentagon.
They will talk about - among other things - the Obama administration's pivot to Asia, and China's concerns about that.
The top White House adviser on Asia, Daniel Russel says the idea of this trip is to get to know Xi better, and let him hear from U.S. officials and business executives what kind of relationship the U.S wants with China.
"The fact that he is not the head of state but that he is intimately, closely involved in Chinese policy-making, I think it gives us a chance to get past the syndrome of dueling talking points that diplomats frequently engage in," Russel says.
And, there are many meetings on the agenda, including lunch at the State Department and a visit to the Pentagon.
"The visit by Vice President Xi Jinping to the Pentagon provides further opportunity to talk through U.S. strategy with respect to posture as well as to answer any questions that Xi may have," Russel says.
The Chinese vice president has been raising many questions about the U.S pivot to Asia. He told The Washington Post that at a time when people long for peace, stability and development - to give prominence to the military security agenda is "not really what most countries in the region hope to see."
China Expert Michael Green jokes the White House needs new language.
"Since our friends in Beijing found "pivot" too aggressive and threatening, I've heard the administration is going to change it to "pirouette," Green jokes.
Green, who is with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, sees a difficult period ahead for U.S.-China relations. The human rights situation has deteriorated. The U.S. is worried about Tibet. China and the U.S. also have differences over Iran and Syria.
"The payoff for this visit, for the administration's going to come in a year to two, frankly, when Xi Jinping is president and then eventually chairman of the military commission and so forth," Green says.
Xi is not only making the rounds in Washington, he plans to go to Muscatine, Iowa, where he once stayed in 1985. And then it's on to Los Angeles to talk about educational exchanges.