US-Asia: Chinese heir apparent Xi to visit Iowa and Obama; US military sends second ship to Philippines

Updated On: Feb 08, 2012

As temperatures run slightly high between the US and China over issues like Syria, Chinese Vice Presidennt Xi Jinping has planned a visit to Iowa and Los Angeles to soothe the “trust deficit” between the countries. However, the US has decided to send a second Coast Guard cutter to aid the Filipino navy as tensions worsen over the hotly contested South China Sea, a move that is very likely to anger the Chinese and hurt the public face the US and China maintain of cooperative relations.

Xi Jinping to visit Iowa, Los Angeles, and White House

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping will visit the United States, Ireland, and Turkey between February 13-22, according to a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson. Cui Tiankai, China’s Vice Foreign Minister says the trip is meant to correct the “trust deficit between China and the United States, which is the result of mutual misgivings between the two, despite their deep trade ties and foreign policy dialogue.

Xi will be visiting the state of Iowa, which he has visited once before while he was a lower ranking official learning about hog-raising. He will then go to Des Moines, where a state dinner will be held for him, before going on to the White House and lastly to Los Angeles in a visit concluding on February 16 and 17.

The state of Iowa is preparing for the biggest thing that has ever happened to it since the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979. Governor Terry Branstad has been busy working on security for the delegation’s visit, in anticipation of human rights protesters, although the governor himself is mum on China’s human rights track.

The governor emphasized the importance of the event for the economic future of the state.

All across the world, observers of Chinese and international politics will be paying attention as Xi makes clear to the international community what kind of leader he will turn out to be. Xi Jinping is the virtually certain heir to current President Hu Jintao. He is not expected  to be a major reformer, but will likely focus more on keeping China on a steady economic course, as well as boosting the country’s global status. Xi is famously outspoken and direct, compared to President Hu. He will have to maneuver the difficult challenges of Chinese development in the tides of global financial insecurity, resource scarcity, and environmental crises and social unrest.

In Turkey, Xi will hold talks with other Turkish leaders, and also attend a China-Turkey economic forum there. In Ireland, he is scheduled to hold talks with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny and other Irish leaders, which is expected to be an in-depth exchange of views on China-Ireland and China-Europe relations.

Report: China sees "trust deficit" before Xi's U.S. trip [Reuters, 7 February 2012]

Report: China's VP to visit US, Ireland, Turkey [Xinhua News, 7 February 2012]

Report: Chinese VP Set for Return Visit to Iowa [Voice of America, 7 February 2012]

Report: From Pope to Pork Sales: Iowa Gets Excited Over Xi Visit [Wallstreet Journal, 7 February 2012]

Report: China's powerful and charming princeling [The Irish Times, 7 February 2012]

Coast Guard cutter Dallas to join US Hamilton ship in Manila

The US will soon send a second ship to the Philippines to aid its navy amid tensions at sea with China. The Coast Guard cutter Dallas will join the Hamilton cutter, which was sent to Manila last year. Both cutters are aging vessels, but they are a great aid to the dilapidated Filipino navy.  The US says it is still considering a range of military capabilities that may help the country move from an inward focus on domestic threats to an outwardly focused military that will be able to deal with external threats. There is no doubt in the mind of experts that the second cutter and any escalation of aid to the Philippines will be driven by concerns about the contested South China Sea.

The US government’s refforts to strengthen the US-Philippine alliance has been branded as a part of the broader strategy by the Obama administration to increase American strategic engagement in the Asia Pacific region. However, it is expected to upset the Chinese government, whom observers will assume is the intended audience of this new ramped up defense of the South China Sea.

The Chinese government has yet to respond to the deployment.

Report: US lawmakers back stronger ties with Philippines [Inquirer.Net: Global Nation, 8 February 2012

Report: US to send second ship to bolster Philippines [Bangkok Post, 8 February 2012]

Transcript: Testimony by Kurt M. Campbell, Assistant Sec., Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade (“The U.S.-Philippines Alliance: Deepening the Security and Trade Partnership”) [U.S. Department of State, 7 February 2012]

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