Washington — Vice President Biden opened his meeting with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping by saying that a strong U.S.-China relationship is one of the most important to both nations and also is significant to the world.
Biden told Xi in brief remarks before beginning their meeting that his visit to Washington “continues the sustained high-level dialogue between our two countries.”
“We’re not always going to see things exactly the same. But we have very important economic and political concerns that warrant that we work together,” Biden said February 14 as they began meeting in the Roosevelt Room at the White House.
Biden set the tone for the second in a series of meetings with Xi by adding that it is a sign of strength and maturity in the two-way relationship that the United States and China are able to talk candidly about their differences and then make progress bridging those differences.
Biden is hosting Xi after the two met in Beijing in August 2011. The reciprocal visits were announced by President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao during the latter’s state visit to Washington last year. While in Washington, Xi is meeting with Obama, Biden and other senior U.S. Cabinet officials to discuss a wide range of economic and trade issues, security and military issues, human rights concerns, and also regional and global challenges.
Talks were expected to include North Korea and its nuclear weapons development program, Iran and its weapons development program, and concerns about escalating violence and civil strife in Syria.
Xi was expected to meet with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Army General Martin Dempsey at the Pentagon, and also to meet with leaders from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives before leaving for Iowa.
Obama told reporters in an Oval Office meeting with Xi that the United States is focused on strengthening its Asian relationships and seeks “to enhance our trade and our commerce, and make sure that we are a strong and effective partner with the Asia-Pacific region.”
“In order to do that, it is absolutely vital that we have a strong relationship with China,” Obama said. On that basis, the two nations have developed extensive strategic and economic dialogues, he added.
Obama also noted that the improving relationship has helped in managing areas of tension in constructive ways.
“That includes working together in the G20 [Group of 20 advanced economies] to manage the world economic crisis that had such an impact not only on both our countries, but on the entire world,” Obama said. “It also includes the work that we’ve been able to do together in dealing with regional hot spot issues, like the Korean Peninsula, and issues like Iran that obviously have an impact on everybody.”
After a two-day visit in Washington, Xi travels to the state of Iowa for meetings with U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Governor Terry Branstad, who was also governor when Xi visited the state in 1985. Xi is expected to travel to the town of Muscatine, which he visited on an exchange program when still an agricultural official in Hebei, Iowa’s sister province. Xi then travels on to Los Angeles where he will rejoin talks with Biden.
The United States has been working to strengthen its relations in East Asia through the East Asia Summit, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which Obama hosted last year in Hawaii. Obama also recently completed a trip across the region to expand U.S. trade and reaffirm U.S. security commitments, which are seen as a significant source for stability and security in the 21st century.
U.S. relations with China include significant security issues in the Middle East, global economic issues and security issues in Northeast Asia.
Xi said that he hoped his weeklong visit to the United States would expand on the consensus reached by Obama and Hu last year to “promote the building of a China-U.S. cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual advantages.”
“Also through this visit, I hope to engage with a broad cross section of American society to deepen the mutual understanding, consensus and the friendship between the Chinese and American people,” Xi said.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton welcomed Xi to the Department of State at a luncheon in his honor, noting that this year marks the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon’s historic trip to China.
“Today, cooperation between the United States and China is imperative to address the many vexing challenges we face, from countering proliferation to addressing climate change to promoting global economic security,” Clinton said. “Now, developing the habits of cooperation is not easy. But we are both committed to building a lasting framework of trust that will support a cooperative partnership for the next 40 years and beyond.”