Coming to America: Hu Jintao’s State Visit to Washington DC

Written on January 18, 2011 by Ángeles Figueroa-Alcorta in Americas, Asia, Foreign Policy, News

Wary detente between China and America: Another go at being friends

A troubled year gives way to handshakes, but tensions between the United States and China are likely to grow.

China’s President Hu Jintao arrives in America on January 18th for a welcome at the White House, full of pomp and pageantry, that American presidents seldom lay on even for the closest of friends. After an unusually rocky year in their relations, both China and the United States hope for respite. But mutual wariness is growing, thanks not least to China’s hawkish army.

The role in Chinese policymaking of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA, which includes the navy and air force) is only dimly understood by outsiders. But the PLA is clearly far less eager than the civilian leadership to mix with America. It needed persuading to acquiesce to a visit to Beijing by America’s defence secretary, Robert Gates, from January 9th to 12th, his first to the country in three years.

China’s leaders apparently hoped that Mr Gates’s trip would help restore a semblance of normality to the two countries’ ties as Mr Hu prepared for his American visit. Mr Hu is no America-lover himself, but like his predecessor, Jiang Zemin, he enjoys being received by the superpower with full ceremonial honours. When Mr Hu last went to Washington, DC, in 2006, China called it a state visit but the White House called it an official one, implying a slightly lesser grade. This time both agree it is a state one, which means all the razzmatazz of a dinner at the White House. Read more…

As published in www.economist.com on January 18, 2011 (The Economist – Print Edition)


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