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Xi to visit US this year

By Chen Weihua in New York and Zhang Yunbi in Beijing | China Daily USA | Updated: 2015-02-09 11:24

Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to pay a state visit to the United States this year, according to senior Chinese and US officials.

Talk about such a visit by Xi has circulated for some time, as he is expected to visit the United Nations in New York in September for the 70thanniversary of its founding.

US National Security Advisor Susan Rice announced Friday that the US has invited Xi for a state visit this year. Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai also confirmed on Friday evening, saying that discussions about the timing of the visit are ongoing.

Cui noted that the two countries have carried out successful high-level interactions in recent years. "We are also very willing to see such interactions continuing this year, and we may even have a greater success," he said.

If Xi makes the trip, it will be his third visit to the US in the last three and a half years. He last visited the US in June 2013, for the historical "shirt-sleeves summit" with Obama at the Sunnylands retreats in Rancho Mirage, California, when the two leaders pledged to build a new type of major country relationship.

He also visited the US in February 2012, as China's vice-president, meeting Obama, and accompanied by Vice-President Joe Biden, touring Muscatine, Iowa, a small town that Xi visited in 1985 as a county chief of North China's Hebei province.

"With China, we're building a constructive relationship that expands practical cooperation across a wide spectrum of issues from global health to non-proliferation, even as we confront real differences over human rights, cyber-enabled economic espionage and the use of coercion to advance territorial claims," Rice said on Friday in a talk on US national security strategy held at the Brookings Institution.

The 2015 White House National Security Strategy unveiled Friday said "the scope of our cooperation with China is unprecedented, even as we remain alert to China's military modernization and reject any role for intimidation in resolving territorial disputes".

The US' military spending is almost four times China's, and many Chinese regard the US as biased in its words and deeds on maritime territorial disputes in the South and East China seas, especially when it involves US treaty allies.

Yuan Zheng, a senior researcher on US foreign policy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that in addition to the state visit, there are three or four other anticipated encounters between Xi and Obama this year.

Obama paid a landmark visit to China in November, when he and Xi reached a long list of bilateral cooperation agreements, including on climate change, military confidence-building and a reciprocal, extended-visa program.

Rice touted the US leadership in the climate sector by saying that the ground-breaking climate commitment with China will limit both nations' greenhouse gases and turn down the global-emissions curve.

She also said that the US is taking a leadership role in addressing the need for enhanced cybersecurity. "As more of the world comes online, we're leading an international effort to define the rules for how states engage with one another in cyberspace, while ensuring the Internet remains a powerful tool to drive future advances," she said.

Many nations, including some US allies, remain deeply suspicious of US behavior in cyberspace, following the revelations made by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden in mid-2013 that the NSA had conducted large-scale surveillance of foreign leaders, foreign corporations and international organizations.

China has suspended a bilateral working group on cybersecurity after the US Justice Department indicted five People's Liberation Army officers last May in an alleged cyber theft, a move described by many experts in China and the US as unwise in tackling the thorny issue between the two countries. Rice also said that the US will start with the Asia-Pacific region in its efforts to update the existing international system.

Many people in China have remained suspicious of the US rebalance strategy, describing it as a US geopolitical effort to curtail China's rapid rise in the region, where China has become the largest trading partner for most of the nations.

Rice said the US-China relationship is "one of our defining relationships for the 21st century", describing it as "complex, one of both cooperation and competition, but it's very much a part of how we view the world".

Calling Obama's recent trip to India a success, Rice dismissed talk that the US relationship with India and China is to pit one against the other.

Cheng Li, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings, told China Daily earlier that Xi and Obama should hold a high-level summit every year.

He said it is worth applauding that despite so many problems in 2014, the two nations' top leaders have managed to put relations on the right track, referring to the Xi-Obama meeting in November.

While Xi is on the guest list this year, Rice said other Asian leaders, such as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, also are expected to visit the US this year.

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