Xi, Obama set to forge new era in Sino-US relations

By Da Wei
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, May 29, 2013
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President Xi Jinping meets US National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday. Donilon's visit is to pave way for Xi-Obama summit which is scheduled for June 7-8 in California, USA. [Xinhua Photo]

President Xi Jinping meets US National Security Advisor Thomas Donilon at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Monday. Donilon's visit is to pave way for Xi-Obama summit which is scheduled for June 7-8 in California, USA. [Xinhua Photo] 

Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet U.S. President Barack Obama on June 7 and 8 at the California estate of Walter and Leonore Annenberg. This is going to be an important meeting that will set a new tone for Sino-U.S. relations and is, by its nature, unique in a number of ways. The estate where the meeting will take place is known as "the Camp David of the west coast" and it is the first time in Sino-U.S. relations that such a meeting has been held here. It is also a rare diplomatic move for President Obama to travel from the east coast to the west coast to meet a foreign leader.

This is, of course, not the first meeting between the two men. As China's then vice president, Xi Jinping paid an official visit to America in February 2012 and held talks with President Obama. Much has changed in the two countries since that visit and although China's new leadership, with Xi as Party chief, and its overall vision not totally new to the U.S., doubts and uncertainties still linger in American minds. For its part, China is interested to discover the intended political legacy of the second-term Obama administration. This meeting, then, represents a great opportunity for the two leaders to discuss their intended strategies and policies for the next 4-5 years.

In President Obama's first term, his "rebalancing" strategy toward the Asia-Pacific region caused widespread concern in China. Since his reelection, however, it appears that the rebalancing strategy has undergone some adjustments and this will be closely watched in Chinese government and academic circles. Since taking office, President Xi has already paid his first official visits to Russia and Africa, and attended the "BRICS" summit before attending the Boao Forum for Asia. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is currently on his first official overseas visit to India, Pakistan and Europe and President Xi will soon visit Latin America and the Caribbean. In light of all of this, there is no question that such intense diplomatic activity has given the U.S. considerable food for thought. The meeting, therefore, also gives both sides the chance to discuss their relative diplomatic strategies and visions.

On his previous U.S. visit last February, President Xi proposed the concept of "a new type of relationship between major countries," a concept which was accepted in March 2013 by Tom Donilon, National Security Advisor to the President Obama. American Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew, Secretary of State John Kerry and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey have all visited China recently and raised concerns over North Korea's nuclear program, cyber security, trade and military communications.

We have not seen the U.S. accept many diplomatic initiatives proposed by China and perhaps the most pressing concern in U.S. circles centers on just what form the "new type of relationship between major countries" will take. The meeting is also a great opportunity for both sides to voice their concerns and reach some kind of consensus.

Two months ago, I visited the United States and exchanged views with some American scholars, who also expressed their concerns and expectations regarding Sino-U.S. relations. The overriding feeling seemed to be that a new window of opportunity existed to push relations forward; however this was tempered by fears surrounding such challenges as the North Korean nuclear program, and cyber security. The American scholars anticipate that the two leaders will undertake in-depth discussions which will set the tone for Sino-U.S. relations in this new era.

There is every reason to believe that the meeting will lay the foundation for a frank and friendly working relationship and set the tone for positive Sino-U.S. relations for the next decade.

The author is the director of Institute of American Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

This article was first published in Chinese and translated by Liu Qiang.

Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of China.org.cn.


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