Tending to China-US relations

February 14, 2012

Valentine’s Day is as good a day as any for China and the United States to work on the kinks in their relationship.

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping signaled beforehand that tending to the state of the  “dynamic and promising” U.S.-China connection would be the at the heart of his White House visit on Tuesday.

The economic and trade relationship between the two countries is far too important to be frayed by “frictions and differences,” Xi wrote in a Q&A submitted to the Washington Post and published on the eve of his White House meeting with President Barack Obama.

“What is important is that we properly handle these differences through coordination based on equality, mutual benefit, mutual understanding and mutual accommodation. We must not allow frictions and differences to undermine the larger interests of our business cooperation,” Xi wrote.

The man many see as China’s leader-in-waiting promised to do better and called on the United States to make an effort too — but he might not be feeling any love from the Republicans seeking to upset Obama in the Nov. 6 election.

Tough talk on China has been a recurring theme on the campaign trail — especially for former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.  He calls China a cheater and says, if elected, he’d work  to get Bejing labeled a currency manipulator,  something the U.S. Treasury has so far refrained from doing.

In a speech last week, the Republican lumped China with Russia and jihadism. (It didn’t have the same ring of George W. Bush’s axis of evil, but the point was made.) Romney, a leading candidate now tied in recent polls, said that trio threatened to compete with the United States and the West for world leadership.

Romney’s closest rival at the moment, Rick Santorum said in one of the early Republican debates that he wanted to go to war with China — presumably he was speaking metaphorically — in the context of trade. (Check out the video except here).

And another candidate, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, has talked about looking for ways to “dramatically raise the pain level” on China for alleged cheating, hacking and theft of intellectual property.

In his Q&A with The Washington Post (questions and answers supplied by his government),  Xi appeared to hold out  hope of finding some common ground in his meeting with the Democratic president on some of  the thorny issues between Washington and Beijing —  the valuation of  the Chinese currency, respect for  intellectual property rights, alleged unfair trade practices and the treatment of dissidents.

And if not, Xi and Obama could always bond over a love of basketball —  the sport is widely watched in China and is one of the president’s favorite sports.

“NBA games are exciting to watch and have global appeal,” Xi wrote. “They are very popular in China. I do watch NBA games on television when I have time.”



Photo Credits:  REUTERS/Andy Wong/Pool (Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner (C), U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke (L) shakes hand with  Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing in  January); REUTERS/Joshua Lott (Romney at campaign event in Mesa, Arizona); REUTERS/Luong Thai Linh/Pool(Xi Jinping on arrival at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi in December)


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