For Xi’s visit, mu­tual trust a must: ex­pert

Vo­gel says mo­men­tum in di­a­logue is best prospect

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By REN QI in New York renqi@chi­

The com­ing state visit of Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping to the US and his meet­ing with his US coun­ter­part Pres­i­dent Barack Obama will be a mile­stone and mu­tual trust will be the big­gest is­sue and may be the largest con­tri­bu­tion Xi’s visit can make, said Ezra Vo­gel, a pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of the Asia Cen­ter at Har­vard Univer­sity.

“The boost of mu­tual trust may be the largest con­tri­bu­tion of Xi’s visit to Sino-US re­la­tion,” Vo­gel said in an in­ter­view with Chi­nese media on Mon­day. “Xi had some con­nec­tion and es­tab­lished some friend­ship with lo­cal res­i­dents in Iowa dur­ing his visit in 1985 and in 2012, and this is the spe­cial bridge be­tween Xi and or­di­nary US peo­ple.”

Vo­gel pre­dicted the two lead­ers would talk about some big con­cerns, such as Diaoyu Is­land, the South China Sea, the en­vi­ron­ment and cy­ber­se­cu­rity. “The lead­ers talked about en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues dur­ing their last meet­ing in Bei­jing, and I think they should carry on the sub­ject,” he said.

As Amer­ica’s lead­ing ex­pert on Si­noUS re­la­tions, Vo­gel ad­mit­ted some dis­agree­ments ex­isted be­tween the two coun­tries, among them cy­ber hack­ing ac­cu­sa­tions and the South China Sea. He said it would be dif­fi­cult for the two coun­tries to reach agree­ment over these sen­si­tive is­sues in such a short visit, so boost­ing mu­tual trust could be “the most im­por­tant and most ba­sic way” to make progress.

Vo­gel said the two coun­tries should not only build up mu­tual trust over is­sues of mu­tual con­cern, such as mil­i­tary mu­tual trust mech­a­nisms, cli­mate change and cy­ber se­cu­rity, but also strengthen the ex­change of opin­ions be­tween China and the US Congress, and en­cour­age US Con­gress­men to learn more about China.

He said the US gov­ern­ment should have a more open at­ti­tude to­wards co­op­er­a­tion. “I think China may cor­rect di­rec­tion over some in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion is­sues, for in­stance, China’s ini­tia­tive of One Belt One Road and the es­tab­lish­ment of the Asia In­fra­struc­ture In­vest­ment Bank,” he said. “The US gov­ern­ment should take part in them, rather than con­tra­dict­ing, as the pro­posal could ben­e­fit US it­self.”

The boost of mu­tual trust may be the largest con­tri­bu­tion of Xi’s visit to Sino-US re­la­tion.”

Su­san Rice, the US Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­vi­sor, vis­ited Bei­jing in Au­gust and met with Pres­i­dent Xi and other gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials. Rice showed a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude dur­ing the visit, and ex­pressed the wish to boost bi­lat­eral re­la­tions and en­large co­op­er­a­tion.

Vo­gel said Rice’s visit could be seen as a prepa­ra­tion for Xi’s state visit in Septem­ber. Vo­gel, 85, pointed out that as the rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Obama, Rice’s trip showed that Xi’s visit meant a lot to Sino-US re­la­tions.

Vo­gel, au­thor of Deng Xiaop­ing and the Trans­for­ma­tion of China, noted that he dis­agrees with some US scholars who said Xi has changed the rules of game in China. He said the ba­sic poli­cies of China have not been changed, as se­cu­rity and mil­i­tary de­vel­op­ment re­main to be part of the poli­cies.

But what’s new is Xi’s pol­icy of an­ticor­rup­tion. “Xi has made a great con­tri­bu­tion to China’s on­go­ing anti-cor­rup­tion cam­paign, and has re­ceived the full sup­port of or­di­nary Chi­nese peo­ple,” Vo­gel said.

Vo­gel was glad to see that de­spite ex­ist­ing dis­putes be­tween China and the US, Xi had main­tained good re­la­tions with Obama, which is good for bi­lat­eral re­la­tions. Still, there can’t be a U-turn in China’s pol­icy to­wards the US in such a short time af­ter the visit, he said.

But Vo­gel pre­dicted that due to the ac­cu­rate and com­pre­hen­sive un­der­stand­ing of the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion that both lead­ers have, their meet­ing would bring some sur­prises to the world.

Ezra Vo­gel, pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of the Asia Cen­ter at Har­vard Univer­sity

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