Thursday, February 16, 2012

Xi Jinping walks the world stage

This is the week of Xi Jinping, China’s vice-president who is inching toward taking up the oars as China’s helmsman by the end of the year at a defining period in China’s modern history as well as in contemporary world politics.

As he travels through the United States, X’s body language and every word he utters — and of his American hosts — will be dissected for meaning as far away as in Tehran, Moscow, New Delhi and Tokyo. Capping it all will be the meeting in the White House on Wednesday with President Barack Obama.

The government newspaper China Daily anticipated that “positive and practical results” could be expected from Xi’s visit. Indeed, much preparation has gone into it. Henry Kissinger lent a big hand — so indeed the Bush family.

The visit sets the tempo of US-China relations for the middle term. Seasoned China watchers in the West predict that Xi will be a confident actor on the world stage.

With an impeccable revolutionary pedigree, Xi makes an unusual combination of great exposure to the West — a daughter studying at Harvard, an older sister living in Canada, a first wife in Britain and a younger brother in Hong Kong — with his staunch nationalism reputed to be sturdier than Hu Jintao’s. Xi is widely travelled and claims a big circle of friends and relatives who live abroad.

But China Daily warned not to make too much out of this “personal issue” in the future trajectory of China-US relations and the “key issue” will be how the two countries resolve their “disputes”. A litany of disputes can be put down on paper — ranging from Syria and Iran on the Middle Eastern chessboard to the security scenario in the Asia-Pacific. Read More