Xi meets former US heavyweights

Updated: 2013-04-25 02:32

By WU JIAO and PU ZHENDONG (China Daily)

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Kissinger, Paulson arrive in Bejing seeking to further strengthen ties

Cabinet members, governors and top military officers are among the guests from the United States who have met with President Xi Jinping just weeks after he was elected China's top leader.

The guest list got longer on Wednesday, with the addition of two former US politicians who are now heavyweight think-tank figures — Henry Kissinger and Henry Paulson.

Xi meets former US heavyweights

Former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, in Beijing on Wednesday, ahead of his 90th birthday next month. Sheng Jiapeng for China Daily

Analysts said the world's two largest economies are engaged in unprecedented frequent communication to keep bilateral ties smooth and to avoid misunderstandings after each has just concluded their leadership transitions.

Kissinger, the former US national security adviser and secretary of state who is known as the architect of China-US relations with his secret visit to China in 1971, is no stranger to Xi. The two met several times before Xi became president in March. In the meeting on Wednesday, Xi wished the veteran diplomat a happy birthday in advance of his 90th birthday next month, and also wished him "good health and longevity".

Facing a guest who is a highly respected foreign policy analyst in the US, Xi said China and the US should further expand their high-level exchanges and dialogue, identify shared interests and properly handle disputes.

China and the US should "continue coordination on global and regional affairs, and maintain a long-term stable development of bilateral ties", Xi said.

Long-time friend

Kissinger, who has visited China more than 80 times and devoted more than four decades to preserving China-US ties, said "US-China cooperation is vital not only to the two countries, but also to the world".

The two countries should deepen communication and expand cooperation on key issues of peace and stability, which is conducive to the world's stable development, Kissinger said.

Jin Canrong, a professor on US studies at Renmin University of China, said Kissinger has been on the guest list of successive generations of Chinese leaders because he has made a significant contribution to the development of Sino-US relations. "Kissinger still plays an active role in Washington policymaking by providing important counsel to the government. He has broad social influence," Jin said.

Xi said Kissinger has exerted a positive influence over China-US ties during the administrations of eight US presidents, and has played special and significant roles in some cases.

Paulson, the former US treasury secretary, told Xi in another meeting that the two countries can cooperate more in the energy and economy sectors.

Since Xi became the top Party leader in November, he also has met successively with two US Cabinet members — Secretary of State John Kerry and Treasury Secretary Jack Lew — plus US governors and former US president Jimmy Carter.

Analysts said that frequent high-level exchanges between Beijing and Washington during the early months of both countries' new administrations will help reaffirm the importance of the relationship and set up a framework of bilateral ties under the new leaderships.

Li Haidong, a specialist in China-US ties at China Foreign Affairs University, said that regular communication between the two countries helps to dispel suspicion and misjudgment on both sides.

The frequent visits US officials of all levels are making to Beijing at least shows that the US is seriously considering the future direction of bilateral ties, and that should be welcomed, Jin said.

Jin said there is great potential to continue improving bilateral ties, since the second administration of US President Barack Obama hasn't established a fixed China policy and China has already posed the concept of "a new type of relationship between big countries".