News / Asia

China Shows New Assertiveness as VP Prepares For US Visit

Stephanie Ho

China is continuing to stress the need for Sino-American cooperation, as Vice President Xi Jinping heads to the United States next week. However, an official says Beijing will increasingly act in its own national interest, even if such moves anger other countries.

Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai told reporters that despite current Sino-American disagreements about issues like Syria, Tibet and trade, he thinks overall relations will continue to improve.

Cui is optimistic about the relationship he says, as long as both countries continue to follow the direction mapped out by both presidents last year, for cooperation based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.

He was asked about possible friction during Xi's visit to the White House because China vetoed a U.S.-backed United Nations resolution against Syria.

Cui says China has cast the fewest vetoes of any of the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members and seriously considers each decision.

Despite the different positions on U.N. action against Syria, Cui says this does not rule out future cooperation between China and other countries, including the United States.

Meanwhile, the Chinese official says deals will accompany Xi's visit. However, he indicated that hugely expanding trade is not the main purpose of this trip.

Cui says observers should not see this trip as a procurement trip or as a trip where, "the visitor is extending gifts to the host".

He urged Washington to end export controls on American high-tech exports to China and adds that Beijing is committed to reforming its currency exchange regime, but will continue to do so at its own pace.

Xiong Zhiyong, diplomacy professor at Beijing's Foreign Affairs College, says in China, foreign policy has always taken a back seat to domestic concerns.

Xiong says foreign affairs are dependent on domestic policy, so it is most important that Chinese leaders take care of domestic issues.

At the same time, the professor says China views ties with the United States as very important and knows it needs to get the Sino-American relationship right if it hopes to effectively handle domestic and economic issues.

Next week, Vice President Xi travels to Washington, Iowa and California. To add to the significance Washington places on the trip, Xi is the man expected to be named China's next top leader.

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