WASHINGTON, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- As the world is watching, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping started his five-day official visit to the United States Monday.
Xi arrived in the afternoon at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington as a guest of his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden.
He was greeted by senior U.S. officials, including Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns and U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke.
In a written statement issued upon his arrival at the airport, Xi said the purpose of his visit is to implement the important consensus reached by President Hu Jintao and U.S. President Barack Obama during Hu's visit to the United States in January last year and to advance the Sino-U.S. cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.
"I have brought with me the sincere greetings of President Hu Jintao and the Chinese people to the American people," he said.
Forty years ago, Xi continued, thanks to the joint efforts of the older generation of Chinese and American leaders, exchanges between the two countries were taken up again, marked by then U.S. President Richard Nixon's visit to China and the issuance of the Shanghai Communique.
In a somewhat symbolic gesture, Xi met in the evening with several former senior U.S. officials, including former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and Madeleine Albright, former Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, former National Security Advisers Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft and Sandy Berger, and former Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao.
During the meeting, Xi's first major event on his first day in Washington, the Chinese vice president spoke highly of their contributions to boosting Sino-U.S. relations.
Among others, Kissinger's first tour to China in July 1971 paved the way for a groundbreaking 1972 summit meeting in Beijing between then U.S. President Nixon and China's late Chairman Mao Zedong.
Kissinger's visit, which opened the door for the development of Sino-U.S. relations, led to the official establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries on Jan. 1, 1979.
Xi said as the international situation is witnessing complex and profound changes, cooperation and coordination between China and the United States have become all the more crucial and vital.
Building a cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and interest is a strategic decision made by both Chinese and U.S. presidents, and it is vital to substantially implement the decision so as to guarantee a stable and sustained expansion of bilateral relations, Xi added.
The vice president called on the U.S. side to ensure that the upcoming U.S. presidential election won't negatively affect the smooth development of bilateral ties.
The presidential vote are due to be held in November.
Xi put forward a four-point proposal on boosting the Sino-U.S.cooperative partnership, namely, to learn the lessons history has taught by adopting a long-term perspective, respecting each other, building mutual trust and striving for a mutually beneficial, win-win situation.
Trade volume between the United States and China, the world's two largest economies, hit 440 billion U.S. dollars last year.
As Kissinger and other U.S. celebrities put it, bilateral relations are at a new historic turning point, and advancing the U.S.-China cooperative partnership is not only beneficial to both countries, but also to the world at large.
Xi's visit has attracted worldwide attention, with local and international press eager to cover the event.
U.S. media said that Xi is enjoying "near-summit treatment" during his visit.
The Washington Post ran a story on Xi's tour on its front page Monday, titled "A Key Visit for China, U.S.," while CNN aired Xi's arrival on its primetime session and presented an in-depth analysis of the visit.
"This visit is an investment in the future of the Chinese-American relationship," Tony Blinken, Biden's national security adviser, was quoted as saying by local press.
Sources said besides attending a series of high-level talks and meetings in Washington, Xi will travel to the farm state of Iowa in the Midwest and Los Angeles on the West Coast.
By Xinhua writers Wu Liming and Bai Jie