The Chinese government has announced that President Xi Jinping is scheduled to make his first state visit to the United States in September of this year. President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama are expected to meet and discuss a range of topics including those that have traditionally exerted challenges on the relationship between the US and China. The meeting may be indicative of an initiative by both leaders to begin to create a closer relationship between the two countries on topics where they hold similar strategic interests.
Xi Jinping, both the President of China and the Communist Party Chief, assumed the office of the Chinese leadership in November 2012. Within China he is known for a more ‘relaxed’ demeanour in contrast with previous leaders who tended to be more formal. Since 2012 he has placed importance behind government transparency in an attempt to increase honesty within the government. Another aim of his leadership appears to be the reduction of the amounts of bureaucracy within the government. China has also been spreading its influence abroad with investments in parts of Africa and also countries with ideological similarities such as Venezuela. Since his first speech as leader the phrase ‘Chinese Dream’ which involves the vision of a stronger nation based on Chinese principles that is internationally influential.
China and the United States have a unique relationship as both benefit from large levels of investment between each other. Furthermore, the United States might want China to open trade more and enforce patent laws more effectively to protect US businesses. Recently, it appears that China is attempting to assist the US in achieving a lasting deal with Iran on its nuclear program. China possesses close economic and energy ties with Iran and therefore may benefit the possibility of a beneficial agreement with the United States and the other nations involved.
The topics to be discussed between President Obama and President Xi Jinping are expected to cover a wide range of domestic and international topic from human rights to internet hacking. The Iranian nuclear negotiations are expected to be discussed with the White House announcing “the two leaders reaffirmed their commitment to coordinate closely on security challenges, including by jointly encouraging Iran to seize the historic opportunity presented by P5+1 negotiations.” Equally, China’s environmental conditions are expected to be discussed as there is a growing desire by the Chinese public for cleaner air and higher environmental regulation.
Furthermore, the close relationship between the US, Japan and Taiwan may be discussed as China possesses a more challenging relationship with these nations due to territorial disputes which the US may look to help resolve. A closer relationship between the United States and China may seem to make sense due to their economic positions. Both are two of the biggest economies in the world and are linked by numerous ties between businesses and trade however, there are improvements that both sides may like to see. Equally, the timing of the meeting may underline its importance as it comes just three months before a United Nations sponsored summit on climate change. Furthermore, given that both leaders reached an important agreement in November to cap China’s carbon emissions by 2030 it may appear there is room for negotiation regarding environmental cooperation.
The meeting between President Xi Jinping and President Barack Obama is significant due to the possibility of a closer relationship between China and the United States. The benefits to trade and investment that closer ties might bring, may seem attractive to both countries however it might also be an opportunity for President Obama to go some way in helping broker compromise in China’s relationships with its neighbours; especially Tibet, Taiwan and Japan. Equally, both countries being members of the UN Security Council highlights their roles as major influences on international developments.
How might the meeting improve relations between China and the US or China’s role in global politics?