Biden's visit could help reshape global image

Updated: 2011-08-19 07:34

By Fu Jing (China Daily)

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BRUSSElS - China is presenting its true image of "unbalanced development" to the US by arranging a tour in its western region for US Vice-President Joe Biden, European observers said.

They said Biden is following a group of foreign politicians who have had the chance to travel to less developing but dynamic western regions of China and are expected to help rebuild the country's image in their minds.

According to his itinerary, Biden will visit Sichuan province, where a devastating earthquake hit in 2008.

"My understanding is that China needs the West, especially the US and Europe, to know the whole picture of China. Otherwise, they will request a lot of international responsibility from a country that still has a huge amount of needy people," Men Jing, a professor on international relations with the Belgium-based College of Europe, told China Daily.

China's economy has registered an average of 10 percent annual growth during the past three decades. China's economy passed Japan's last year, becoming the second biggest in the world, and the country has been branded as a world power along with the US.

But according to UN standards, while Shanghai enjoys a development status similar to Portugal, western provinces such as Guizhou and Gansu, and some counties in Sichuan where Biden is scheduled to visit, are on the same level as those in poor African countries.

Huang Weihua, senior manager of China Desk of KPMG Brussels, said she has noticed similar diplomatic arrangements, adding that Belgium's Prince Philippe will visit Chongqing municipality in October while leading a 400-person business mission to several other cities in China.

"Economically, the world can not afford to ignore the western parts of China and at the same time, the visits can help them mind the gap," Huang said. "Biden's visit will also see huge market potential in western China."

David Fouquet, director of the Asia Europe Project Information Service based in Brussels, noted that Biden's visit came shortly after the US' credit rating downgrade.

"Though the visit is long arranged, the new development will boost the urgency and significance of exchanges between China and the US," said Fouquet.

 A leader in shaping US foreign policy

Born on Nov 20, 1942, in Pennsylvania, Joe Biden became one of the youngest US Senators when he was elected at the age of 29. He was a senator for Delaware for 36 years.

Appointed chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1997, Biden played an important role in shaping all aspects of US foreign policy.

Biden was involved in debating and formulating legislation concerning the major issues of the day, including terrorism, post-Cold War Europe and the Middle East.

Once the Democrats regained the White House in 2009, Biden, as the country's 47th vice-president, was able to draw on his rich foreign policy experience, advising the president on a number of international issues.

Biden has visited China twice before, in 1979 and 2001. At the Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Washington in May, Biden recalled his trip in April 1979 when he met then vice-premier Deng Xiaoping and "witnessed the changes that were being initiated, and was certain that a remarkable transformation was about to happen.

"We understand absolutely that our relationship with China will be a priority," he said, adding that the two countries are "bound by ever-growing ties of commerce and investment".