Friday February 21, 2020


February 14, 2012


Vice President Xi Jinping of China arrived in Washington, D.C. on February 13 to begin his official visit, which included meetings with President Obama, Vice President Biden, several cabinet and congressional leaders, and the Chamber of Commerce. Because Xi is expected to take Hu Jintao’s place as president later this year, the trip also serves as Xi’s introduction in America, and a chance for American officials and China enthusiasts to get their first impressions of the man who will guide China through the next decade.

Xi met with President Obama around noon on February 14. While the meeting served mainly to introduce the two men to each other, it nonetheless marked an important face-to-face interaction between America’s president and China’s future leader. Xi’s visit will set the basis for a personal working relationship between America and China in the future. The main purpose of the visit, as repeatedly stated by Xi himself, is to “deepen friendship” between the two nations.

In preparation for his visit, Xi also outlined a general strategy for strengthening U.S.-China relations, including mutual respect and trust, working for mutual benefit, maintaining a strong awareness of history, and developing the foresight to understand far-reaching consequences. Perhaps Xi’s most telling remark on US-China relations came during an interview with the Washington Post, when he stated that “There is no reason for our two countries not to engage in friendly cooperation.”

Besides his official meetings in Washington, Xi will also spend time in Iowa, a symbolic gesture meant to recall his visit to the small town of Muscatine, Iowa, in 1985. Xi will conclude his visit to the U.S. in California, where he will meet with more American business leaders. While in California, Xi also plans to attend a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game. Some China-watchers have taken these additional stops as evidence that Xi intends to present a more personal, down-to-earth side of himself than the more reserved Hu Jintao was keen to show.

While Xi’s personality may be evident during the visit, how the direction of U.S.-China relations might change under his control remains largely unknown and difficult to ascertain. Xi’s visit represents an important first step in forging a personal connection between the US and China, but more serious discussions over policy issues will have to wait until Xi has officially taken up the mantle of China’s president and the Chinese Communist Party leader.


For further coverage of Xi Jinping and his visit to Washington, please see the following news sources and commentary.

The GuardianXi Jinping to Meet Obama as China and US Look to Improve Relations

The Guardian“Profile: Xi Jinping”

Wall Street JournalLive Blogging Xi’s Visit to the U.S”.

Washington Post– “Full Text of Xi’s interview with Washington Post

For Chinese commentary on Xi Jinping’s visit to Washington, please see the following news sources.


People’s Daily 人民网-“习近平接受《华盛顿邮报》书面采访 中美没理由不友好不合作

Sina– “习近平抵达华盛顿开始对美国进行正式访问