by Xinhua writers Wu Liming, Qian Tong, Huo Xiaoguang
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 18 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping on Friday night wrapped up a five-day official visit to the Unites States, which has proven to be a landmark in China-U.S. relations oriented toward the future.
The tour on Feb. 13-17 has drawn worldwide attention with its great significance.
During the five days, Xi visited four cities across the American continent, including Washington D.C. in the east, Muscatine and Des Moines in the midwest, and the western city of Los Angeles.
The vice-president attended 30 events. He met with U.S. President Barack Obama in the White House, his counterpart Joe Biden, Congress leaders and other senior officials. He also addressed several business forums.
Xi visited a farm, a school, and his old friends who he acquainted in Iowa state 27 years ago.
All in all, the visit has achieved its objectives of implementing the important consensus reached by Chinese President Hu Jintao and U.S. President Obama last year, advancing the China-U.S. cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit, and consolidating the friendship between the peoples of the two countries.
Xi's official U.S. visit started on Feb. 13 as a guest of his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden. He was greeted by senior U.S. officials upon arrival, including Deputy Secretary of State William J. Burns and U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke.
Xi's visit came at a crucial time when China-U.S. relations are at a turning point.
Forty years ago, then U.S. President Richard Nixon paid his ground-breaking visit to China, which opened the door for the development of China-U.S. relations, and led to the official establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries on Jan. 1, 1979.
The year 2012 is of vital significance to both China and the United States. The U.S. presidential election will be held in November while a Party congress will be held in China, which is set to realize a leadership transition.
In the meantime, the international situation is undergoing complex and profound changes, and cooperation and coordination between China and the United States have become all the more crucial and vital.
Xi's visit has attracted worldwide attention, with local and international press eager to cover the event long before his arrival.
The Washington Post ran a story on Xi's tour on its front page Monday titled "A Key Visit for China, U.S.," while the CNN aired Xi's arrival in 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.
For days, U.S. media have repeatedly said that Xi was enjoying a "near-summit treatment" during his visit. To a certain extent, it is true.
On Feb. 14, the second day of Xi's stay in the U.S., the federal administration organs in Washington seemed to have entered a "China Day."
First of all, President Obama received Xi at the Oval office of the White House, discussing candidly over a number of issues of common concern. Local television channels, including the CNN, broadcasted live the opening session of the meeting.
Xi was also invited by Biden to talk at the renowned Theodore Roosevelt room in the west wing of the White House, and was accompanied by his U.S. counterpart at as many as 11 out of his 30 events during the tour. Biden flew to Los Angeles to host a farewell banquet in Xi's honor.
At the Pentagon, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Edward Panetta hosted a welcoming ceremony in front of the Pentagon in honor of Xi. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also attended their meeting.
Just like the local media put it, it is "rare" for the host to stage the above-mentioned diplomatic arrangements for Xi.
Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (L) meets with U.S. President Barack Obama at the White House in Washington, the United States, Feb. 14, 2012. (Xinhua/Xie Huanchi)
REACHING POLITICAL CONSENSUS
Xi's visit has been designed in part to reduce the so-called strategic trust deficit between the world's largest economy and the fastest growing power in the Asia-Pacific region.
Washington has been concerned for years that a rising China might be a destabilizing force by challenging the existing international political and economic order. Beijing, meanwhile, has long feared that America might be seeking to contain China's rise.
There is no denying that divergences and disputes between the two countries still exist on many fronts that stand in the way of building strategic mutual trust between them.
During his meeting with Obama and Biden, Xi put forward several proposals to promote "strategic mutual trust" between the two countries, including respecting each other's core interests and accommodating each other's major concerns.
"The development of cooperative partnership could be guaranteed only when the two sides view each other's strategic intention and development path in a correct and objective way, respect each other's core interests and accommodate each other's major concerns, avoid making troubles for each other and do not cross over each other's bottom lines," Xi said.
Xi proposed that China and the United States make full use of various dialogue and consultation mechanisms to provide fresh impetus to forge their bilateral cooperative partnership.
During his meetings with Obama and Biden, Xi stood firm in upholding China's core interests.
Xi reiterated Beijing's position on the Taiwan issue and urged Washington to conform to the spirit of the three joint communiques underpinning the China-U.S. relations during his meeting with Obama.
The Obama administration last September notified the U.S. Congress of its decision to sell arms worth 5.85 billion U.S. dollars to Taiwan, including upgrades for 145 of Taiwan's fighter jets.
The move infuriated Beijing and was seen as the latest evidence of Washington's irresponsible nonchalance to China's core interests.
Though not speaking specifically about the arms sale to Taiwan, Xi called on the United States to safeguard, with concrete action, the peaceful development of relations across the Taiwan Strait and the overall development of China-U.S. ties, according to a press release issued by the Chinese delegation.
Xi said the Taiwan issue concerns China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and remains, as always, the most important and most sensitive issue in China-U.S. relations.
Beijing appreciates Washington's repeated declaration of its commitment to the one-China policy, Xi said.
Obama, for his part, reiterated adherence to the one-China policy based on the three joint communiques.
The United States does not support any calls for "Taiwan independence," he said, adding that his country wants to see the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations move forward.
In talks with Biden, Xi said the Taiwan and Tibet issues concern China's core interests. He asked the United States to properly and cautiously handle those issues, so as to avoid damage and disturbances to the China-U.S. relations.
ADVANCING ECONOMIC COOPERATION
The United States and China are the two biggest economies in the world, and both are each other's second largest trading partners. Statistics show that the bilateral trade volume in 2011 stood at 446.6 billion dollars and will exceed 500 billion dollars this year.
Promoting trade and economic cooperation between the two countries was a vital part of Xi's tour.
Over the past five days, Xi attended a roundtable of Chinese and U.S. business leaders in Washington, addressed a forum on agricultural cooperation in Des Moine, and a business forum in Los Angeles. He also visited a farm in the suburb of Des Moines and the China Shipping terminal at the Port of Los Angeles.
On various occasions, Xi called on the United States to adjust its economic policies and structure to address the China-U.S. trade imbalance.
Over the past 33 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States, China-U.S. trade has increased by over 180 times.
China has become the fastest growing export market for the United States, Xi said, adding that U.S. exports to China have grown by 468 percent in the last 10 years.
Xi pointed out that both China and the United States have benefited from their growing business ties over the past four decades.
Addressing the opening session of the China-U.S. Economic and Trade Cooperation Forum held in Los Angeles, Xi rejected the view suggesting that China is the winner and the United States the loser in bilateral economic and trade relations.
"Such a view does not square with facts," Xi said.
"Both China and the United States are winners. This is a truly win-win situation," the vice-president said.
The large import of quality and inexpensive goods from China has helped the American people improve their real spending power and living standards and contributed to the efforts of the United States to maintain growth, Xi said.
According to the findings of the U.S.-China Business Council, economic cooperation and trade with China has served to propel economic growth and to keep consumer prices relatively low in the United States. Business cooperation with China has, in effect, added an extra 1,000 dollars to the annual disposable income of each American household.
In addition, the growing China-U.S. business ties have created lots of job opportunities in the United States, Xi said.
Available statistics show that between 2001 and 2010, over 3 million new jobs were created in the United States thanks to exports to China, he said.
During the tour, China and the United States jointly released a fact sheet on strengthening U.S.-China economic relations, promising to open more fields and work out more measures to facilitate bilateral economic cooperation.
On the sideline of Xi's visit, China sent six business-promotion delegations consisting of more than 500 Chinese business leaders to visit 11 cities across the U.S.. The delegations have signed as many as 149 contracts and cooperation agreements worth 38.6 billion dollars, including deals of purchasing U.S. goods and equipment with a total value of 27 billion dollars.
No wonder U.S. Commerce Secretary John E. Bryson admitted that booming Chinese economy has facilitated the sharp increase of U.S. exports to China, and China's decision to further open insurance market is good news.
HUMAN TOUCH WINS WIDESPREAD SUPPORT
Reunion with old friends, telling a story of an American couples' attachment to China, visiting a school and watching an NBA game, all these human-touch arrangements during Xi's tour have won him widespread support.
Among others, having a tea chat with his old American friends in Muscatine has drawn wide attention and become something mentioned most by American people about Xi's trip.
Most of the participants at the tea reception were Xi's American friends back in 1985, when Xi, then a local official of China's northern province of Hebei, visited Iowa as a member of an agricultural delegation, and stayed at the homes of local residents and dined with others.
For the American people, Xi's Iowa "tea time" has become an impressive moment in the China-U.S. friendship -- a moment reminiscent of the waving of a cowboy hat by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping when he visited the United States some 33 years ago.
Thanks to the "tea time," Muscatine has become one of America's most famous towns to the Chinese people.
"We feel so honored," said Sarah Lande, who owned the house and was one of the organizers for Xi's first trip. Lande said they hoped that Xi's visit could set a good example for the peoples of the two countries.
At Wednesday's luncheon in Washington, Xi told friendly groups a moving story about an American couple's affection for China.
Xi recalled how he, when serving as the party chief of China's southeastern city of Fuzhou in 1992, facilitated a trip for an American lady who was trying to fulfil her late husband's wish of revisiting "Kuling", a small town remembered as his childhood home in China.
Former U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen said, "He told a touching story that was evidence to me (he is) a man with a good heart, and wants the best for his country and for our relationships."
On the final day of the visit in Los Angeles, the vice-president visited a language-learning school and chatted with young students there. Xi said education is very important, and he valued the trip very much and regarded it as one of the most vital events in his U.S. tour.
To the surprise of many people, Xi went to the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles and watched an NBA game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns on Friday night before he headed to Ireland for his second leg of the trip.