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UPDATED: February 20, 2012 NO.8 FEBRUARY 23, 2012
Being Friends, the Correct Choice
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping stresses mutual trust and common understanding during his U.S. tour
By Ding Ying


GETTING ACQUAINTED: Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (left) meets U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House on February 14 (LAN HONGGUANG) 

The world is curious about the future of the Sino-U.S. relations as the two countries engage in increasing interactions in the Asia Pacific. Washington declared in 2011 that it would switch its strategic focus to the burgeoning region. There have been worries that the world could be dragged down if the two giants decide to confront each other. Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping's recent American visit, which was his first one as a state leader, was the right moment to erase this suspicion, said observers.

During his visit both sides agreed a healthy bilateral relationship is not only crucial to each other's interests, but also will benefit the region and even the world. The two countries must find a unique way to establish a win-win bilateral relationship based on mutual trust, mutual respect, cooperation, and common understanding. Another convincing reason is their trade and economic links are so close that a rift in the relationship will definitely hurt both.

Visit of significance

Xi's visit can be considered as a tour of exploration, said Jia Xiudong, a researcher with the China Institute of International Studies (CIIS). He pointed out that this tour was significant for the two sides to find a way to implement the important consensus reached by the presidents of the two countries on the promotion of bilateral ties, and to push the bilateral relationship forward along the track of healthy development.

Xi announced right after he arrived in Washington, D.C. that the purpose of his visit was to increase consensus, deepen friendship and communicate with people from various walks of life in the United States. In addition to stops in Washington, D.C. and California, Xi also visited the Midwestern state of Iowa, returning to a town he visited 27 years ago as a local official from north China's Hebei Province heading an agricultural delegation.

This year serves as a link between the past and the future for the two countries. In the second half of this year, China will hold the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, while the United States will have a presidential election. Xi's visit will cement a good basis for future personal relations between leaders of the two countries, said Jia.

Bonnie Glaser, a senior fellow with the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said she hoped there was some "chemistry" between Xi and U.S. President Barack Obama.

"I hope they recognize that the U.S.-China relationship is among the most important in the world and as leaders they have to be good stewards of this relationship. Managing bilateral differences is critically important," she said.

Xi's visit was important in terms of shaping both elite and popular U.S. perception of China at a time when people in the United States are getting ready to choose their president, said David J. Firestein, Vice President for the Strategic Trust-Building Initiative and Track 2 Diplomacy of the EastWest Institute, a global think tank based in New York City.

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