Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping wrapped up a two-day visit in Washington February 15 with meetings on Capitol Hill with U.S. Senate leaders and a speech to the U.S.-China Business Council before heading to America’s heartland for a visit with old friends in Iowa.
Xi met February 15 with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and other members from both political parties. In a speech before the U.S.-China Business Council, Xi told executives that the United States and China must continue to build mutual understanding and trust as they seek ways to resolve differences.
Vice President Biden is hosting Xi after the two met in Beijing in August 2011. The reciprocal visits between the two vice presidents were announced by President Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao during the latter’s visit to Washington last year.
On February 14, Xi met with Obama, Biden and senior U.S. Cabinet officials at the White House to discuss a wide range of economic and trade issues, security and military issues, human rights concerns, and regional and global challenges. They also discussed North Korea and its nuclear weapons development program, Iran and its weapons development program and the escalating violence in Syria.
Xi met with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the Pentagon on February 14. In addition to being China’s vice president, Xi also is vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission. It is anticipated that Xi will become China’s next president in March 2013, further underscoring the importance of this visit to the United States.
Obama told reporters before an Oval Office meeting with Xi that the United States is focused on strengthening its Asia-Pacific relationships and enhancing U.S. trade with the region. The United States, Obama added, wants to ensure it is an effective partner with the Asia-Pacific region, and that means an effective relationship with China.
After visiting the Pentagon, Xi and Biden addressed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington. Biden told Chinese and U.S. business leaders that the United States will continue to ensure that all nations play by the same set of international trade rules. “We’ve brought cases that have challenged unfair trade practices, and we’ve defended U.S. producers and workers in many arenas,” Biden said.
“I’m sure, as the vice president [Xi] will be the first to tell you, we have work to do — especially on issues like discriminatory subsidies and financing, protecting intellectual property and trade secrets, and ending the practice of making the transfer of technology a requirement for doing business,” Biden said.
Xi told the executives that the active participation of business executives in both nations has made the U.S.-China economic relationship “more colorful and more dynamic.”
In Iowa later on February 15 and February 16, Xi will visit Muscatine, where he stayed in 1985 on an agricultural exchange trip. He will be joined by U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke. A formal dinner with Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will be held in Des Moines.
While in Muscatine, Xi will attend a tea with many of the residents of the small eastern Iowa farming community who were his hosts during his stay there in 1985. The trip to Iowa is in part to reconnect with many of the Americans he met on his first trip to the United States, and also to meet with significant members of Iowa’s farming industry, which supplies considerable amounts of food to China.
According to U.S. trade statistics, China exported about $3 billion of agricultural products to the United States in 2010, but imported more than $17 billion in U.S. agricultural products. Soybeans made up $11 billion of those imports, according to an Iowa State University economist. China has become the top destination for U.S. farm exports, economist Dermot Hayes told VOA News.
Chinese and American officials will attend the first U.S.-China Agriculture Symposium in Des Moines on February 16. On February 17, Biden rejoins Xi in Los Angeles for private meetings. Xi and Biden will visit a school in Los Angeles and be introduced to students who are studying Chinese.