Ties with China central to Obama's Asia Pacific policy: US

Preparing to throw a red carpet welcome to China's future leader and Vice President Xi Jinping next week, the Obama Administration has said America's ties with China is a critical part of its Asia Pacific policy.

"A critical part of our Asia-Pacific policy is the very deep relationship and cooperation that we have with China on a range of areas," Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications, told reporters yesterday.
Xi, the future President of China, is coming to the US next week on the invitation of US Vice President Joe Biden.

Rhodes said the move should be seen in the larger context of efforts by President Barack Obama to re-focus US policy on the Asia-Pacific region.

"I think it's important to put this visit in the larger context of the fact that from the beginning of this administration, the President has really made a concerted effort to focus American foreign policy and economic policy on the Asia-Pacific region," Rhodes said.

Daniel Russel, Special Assistant to the US President, Senior Director for Asian Affairs, said the US look at this visit by Vice President Xi as part of the policy continuum, which is in part predicated on the importance of getting the US-China relationship right.

"That involves engaging China and especially engaging Chinese leadership in ways that increase the quality of our communication and elicit better cooperation," he said.

"The fact is also more broadly that the way that we deal with China affects our own influence and leadership in Asia because this relationship is something that the other countries in the region care a great deal about," he said.

There are elements of competition and elements of cooperation in the relationship, but it matters to the region and to the world how the US and China deal with each other, he said, adding that certainly they value the principles of playing by the rules that the President has consistently articulated.

"So in dealing with China's leaders in general and certainly both with respect to Vice President Biden's visit in August and this visit now by the Chinese Vice President Xi, we are building up areas of cooperation, we're dealing consistently and directly with our differences, and we're managing problems," Russel said.

The US, Russel said, welcomes the rise of China at the same time it insists that China adhere to accepted rules and norms of regional and global economic and security behavior.

"So a large part of our engagement with China and our China policy has been holding frequent high-level contacts with Chinese leaders because it allows us to speak directly and authoritatively to them about the range of bilateral and regional and global issues that are in play, both in our relationship and of concern to both countries," Russel said.

"So with Vice President Xi during this visit, as the vice president did when he traveled, we fully expect to be discussing all of the important issues in the US-China relationship on the political, security, economic and human rights side," he said.

Michael Froman, Deputy National Security Adviser for International Economics; said the US hopes to hope to secure China's commitment, both in the G-20 and elsewhere, to reduce its current account surplus and to shift its economic growth model toward greater domestic demand.

Given the expectation that Xi will succeed President Hu Jintao, this visit is really an investment in the future of the US-China relationship, said Antony Blinken, Deputy Assistant to the President, and National Security Adviser to the Vice President.

Xi arrives in the US on February 13, and his meetings at the White House are scheduled for February 14.

The two Vice Presidents are expected to hold a meeting at the White House for two hours before they head to the Oval office to meet Obama.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would throw a lunch for the visiting Chinese dignitary, after which Xi will visit Pentagon to meet the Defence Secretary, Leon Panetta, and General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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