Chinese heir apparent Xi Jinping has wrapped up his trip to Washington DC by giving a keynote speech to government and business leaders.
The Vice President's address did not reveal any major policy shifts, but reiterated the importance of a US-China friendship, which he described as “an unstoppable river that keeps surging ahead.”
Mr. Xi is widely tipped to lead China from 2013. As US President Obama prepares for a November re-election battle, the visit is being viewed as an indication of the next generation of US-China relations.
In his speech, described by observers as 'closely scripted', Mr. Xi outlined told business leaders that increased understanding, mutual respect for core interests, trade and cooperation in international affairs should form the basis of future relations.
Xi emphasised that there would be more balanced economic and
international cooperation but also stressed Beijing's impatience with
U.S. policies on Taiwan and Tibet, areas where many Chinese expect their
leaders to stand up to foreign pressure.
In response to accusations of China keeping its currency low, Mr. Xi repeated a long standing gripe, saying the US would need to reform its own trade restrictions on exports to China in order to right that imbalance.
"The world is currently undergoing profound changes, and China and the United States face shared challenges and shoulder shared responsibilities in international affairs," said Mr. Xi, citing Iran and North Korea as issues where the two could work together.
During his 20 minute address, Mr. Xi also recognised the US's increased presence in Asia, but also issued a warning, saying that "China welcomes the United States playing a constructive role in promoting the peace, stability and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. At the same time we hope the U.S. side will truly respect the interests and concerns of countries in the region, including China."
Analysts said that Mr Xi's visited brought no surprises, and that the Chinese Vice-President set down the usual markers. Not the leader of China yet, the visit has not produce any specific agreements, but has laid ground for future ties between the two men, if both are in power by 2013, for the coming decade.
Report: China leader-in-waiting Xi woos and warns U.S. (Reuters, 15 February 2012)
Report: Xi’s Washington Address: Short, Polite and to the Point (WSJ, 16 February 2012)
Report: Xi sees new 'starting point' for US-China ties (AFP, 16 February 2012)
Analysis: China's Xi and Obama stick to script in Washington (BBC News, 16 February 2012)