Trip to help build trust amid thorny issues
Chinese President Xi Jinping's upcoming visit to the U.S. will stabilize bilateral ties, sending friendly signals to U.S. business leaders and politicians against a backdrop of rising tensions amid distrust, analysts said Wednesday.
Xi is scheduled to make his first State visit to the U.S. late September at the invitation of his counterpart, U.S. President Barack Obama.
No official schedule has been released by the foreign ministry. However, sources with knowledge of the matter suggest that Xi will begin with a series of public engagements in Seattle on September 22, before heading to Washington, DC and concluding with a speech at the United Nations General Assembly on September 28, the South China Morning Post reported Wednesday.
Experts said his visit, which comes amid increasing diplomatic tensions, will showcase China's sincerity to settle controversies with the U.S., a move that will stabilize the situation inside and outside of China.
They also played down the hopes of any major breakthrough, but said the visit will help bridge differences and build trust.
As thorny issues, such as maritime disputes in the South China Sea, have strained ties and posed a threat to Asia-Pacific security, Xi's visit is conducive to curbing the deterioration of the relations by further clarifying their respective stances and core interests during the high-level talks, Shi Yinhong, director of the Center for American Studies at Renmin University of China, told the Global Times.
At the meetings, China will continue illustrating the concept of a new type of major power relationship, Liu Weidong, an expert on U.S. studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times.
The concept, characterized by no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation, has been stressed by Xi to deal with ties with the U.S..
"The trip will show China's perseverance in solving controversial issues and stabilizing relations, rather than putting the issues aside just because Obama will leave office in 2016," Jin Canrong, vice director of the School of International Studies at Renmin University, told the Global Times.
"Such a friendly posture will thwart U.S. presidential candidates from finding more faults with China during the upcoming presidential campaign, albeit the next administration is unlikely to give up Obama's 'pivot to Asia' strategy to impede China's growing economic and geopolitical power," Liu said.
Jin added that Xi's visit will also create goodwill to political circles, businesses and media in the U.S., bolstering their confidence in future cooperation at all levels.
A tech meeting is due to be held in Seattle on September 23 between top Chinese and U.S. tech companies such as Alibaba, Baidu, Apple, Facebook and Google after Xi arrives in the U.S., The New York Times reported Tuesday.
"State senators and representatives from those states that heavily rely on economic cooperation with China may also suggest remaining neutral about controversies with China, avoiding harsh criticism over their trading partner," Liu said.
The Seattle Times reported in April that China is Washington State's largest merchandise trade partner.
Jin added that Xi's State visit to the U.S. will also reassure the market within China by showing progress in bilateral ties, since China's foreign policies are inclined to be tightened in general if relations between the two major powers sour.
No major breakthroughs
Observers agreed that both sides do not expect major breakthroughs during the upcoming visit as critical issues, such as cyber attacks, the yuan appreciation and disputes in the South China Sea, remain well under negotiation.
The U.S. is preparing to sanction Chinese companies connected to the cyber theft of U.S. intellectual property as early as next week, in advance of Xi's visit, the Financial Times reported on September 3. Suspicions that Chinese hackers were behind a series of data breaches in the U.S. have been an irritant in relations between the two world powers.
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter in May also sparked bilateral tensions when he asked his staff to look at options that include flying navy surveillance aircraft over islands and sending U.S. naval ships to within 12 nautical miles of reefs in the South China Sea.
Analysts said both countries have long been reluctant to compromise on core interests and it is unlikely that the two nations would make substantial breakthroughs in one visit.
"However, China and the U.S. can still make compromises by formulating a mechanism to prevent tensions from escalating," Liu said.
Tao Wenzhao, a research fellow at the Institute of U.S. Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the two countries can still make headway in issues like climate change and bilateral investment treaty.