Experts hail Xi's local connections
Updated: 2012-02-18 08:42
By Chen Weihua (China Daily)
NEW YORK - By visiting a farm and a basketball arena, Vice-President Xi Jinping is getting to know the United States beyond top-level meetings in Washington, something experts say will help China and the US weather political storms.
Derek Scissors, a research fellow at the Asian Studies Center of the Heritage Foundation, said on Wednesday that he is delighted that Xi stopped in Iowa and California.
Scissors said he believes the China-US relationship has serious problems that will harm communication between Washington and Beijing. But by moving beyond the two capitals, much can still be accomplished.
"That Xi Jinping was in Iowa 25 years ago and is back in Iowa now, I think that's good," Scissors said during a discussion - "Xi's Visit: What's Next for US-China Relations" - on Wednesday afternoon at the American Enterprise Institute.
"I think the American president should start going to different provinces in China. I think it would be absolutely a great thing," he said.
Scissors pointed out that while the clashing interests between the US and China mean that some talks are going to be very difficult, things can be done to reinforce the relationship.
He mentioned the meeting of governors as a good example of positive exchange between the two countries.
After the US-China Governors Forum in Salt Lake City, Utah, in July, a second forum was held in Beijing in October. US officials from Georgia, Washington, North Carolina, Hawaii and Guam met with Chinese provincial governors about trade and investment cooperation.
"Let's open different fronts. Let's see that states like Iowa are happy with their interactions with Chinese companies, Chinese political officials and provinces in China," Scissors said.
Orville Schell, Arthur Ross director of the Center on US-China Relations at the Asia Society in New York, suggested in an interview with China Daily that the two governments could explore new avenues of interaction since most Sino-US dialogue takes place at national government levels.
Schell said that when arguments and conflicts arise, such as policy disagreements, the communication isn't constructive.
"Where China needs to turn, and so does the US, is more toward state-to-state or country-to-state relationships. There is a great need for Chinese investment, not political barriers and disputes," Schell said.
Dan Blumenthal, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former vice-chairman of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, acknowledged that in an election year in the US, politicians have to show their constituents that they are tough on currency manipulation, human rights and other politically touchy topics.
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, attacked China in an op-ed in Thursday's Wall Street Journal. He covered everything from military threats to currency manipulation.
Scissors, of the Heritage Foundation, said the US has put too much emphasis on the Chinese currency exchange rate in the past. Bilateral trade deficits went up $132 billion in the seven years from 2004 to 2011, despite the fact that the yuan exchange rate increased 25 percent from 8.28 to 6.21.