Chinese Vice President Xi Visits Iowa
Before Xi's visit to the United States, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, Cui Tiankai, bemoaned the two countries' “trust deficit” and suggested that they give full attention to fixing it. He's right about the problem, but in any relationship, trust is only built over time. It requires clarity of intention, predictability of action, and a willingness to give before taking. And all that is sorely lacking between Washington and China.
Xi arrives for a plenary session of the NPC in Beijing. (Jason Lee / courtesy Reuters)
Between trips to Washington and Los Angeles, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is scheduled to make an overnight stop in Iowa. On Wednesday, Xi will travel to the small city of Muscatine to visit with Iowans he first met 27 years ago when he was touring the state as a county-level official. In the evening, he will attend a 650-guest dinner hosted by Governor Terry Branstad in Des Moines. The trip around the United States will pave the way for Xi to gradually assume responsibility for foreign policy later this year, when he is expected to succeed Hu Jintao as General Secretary of China's ruling Communist Party. With the transition as backdrop, Xi's stay in the Hawkeye State will feature a nostalgic, although carefully stage-managed twist on past precedents.
Ten years ago, on the eve of his own ascension to the top position in the party hierarchy, Hu made a broadly similar outing, touring New York and meeting with the U.S. president and vice president in Washington. On this journey, Xi, too, will try to demonstrate that he can confidently manage the crucial but friction-prone relationship with the United States. No diplomatic breakthroughs are expected; rather, China's aim is a smooth and embarrassment-free affair that rounds out Xi's debut on the world stage...