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Xi Jinping, China's new vice president, visited the United States on Tuesday to conduct meetings in Washington, D.C. On Thursday, AEI hosted three panelists to provide a brief evaluation of Xi's recent visit to the U.S.—a visit that took place during a period of marked tension in U.S.--China relations. The panelists covered topics relating to politics, security, economics and human rights, but all participants arrived at the conclusion that the visit itself revealed little about Xi as a future leader of the People's Republic of China.
Dan Blumenthal explained that the Obama administration should use this visit and the coming months to take advantage of China’s political transition by putting "the new leader on notice of our interests" rather than making obsequious reassurances. Derek Scissors built on that theme by offering suggestions for which policies the U.S. should prioritize in its relationship with China. Scissors advocated for a great emphasis on intellectual property rights and commercial cyber theft and a movement away from the politicized currency issue. Finally, Ellen Bork warned that America's overemphasis on forming relationships with China's new generation of leaders "excludes the Chinese people" and sidelines human rights issues from our bilateral discourse. She lamented the timing of this visit, citing recent crackdowns on Internet expression and a rise in violence in Tibet. Overall, the panel cautioned observers about drawing sweeping conclusions based on Xi's visit and called for a stronger communication of U.S. interests throughout the U.S.-China bilateral relationship.
On February 14, Vice President Joe Biden will host his Chinese counterpart -- Xi Jinping, China's likely next paramount leader -- for meetings in Washington, D.C. Xi arrives during an extended period of tension in the U.S.-China relationship, marked most recently by Beijing's veto of a United Nations Security Council resolution on Syria. Moreover, ongoing differences over North Korea, Taiwan, Iran, the South China Sea, and currency and trade issues have made bilateral cooperation difficult over the past couple of years. Will Xi reassure the White House that he is a leader it can work with both now and in the future? Can he simultaneously reassure his Chinese compatriots that he will not kowtow to the United States? How important is Xi's visit in the bigger picture of U.S.-China relations? On Thursday, February 16, a panel will assess Xi's time in Washington.
DAN BLUMENTHAL, AEI
ELLEN BORK, Foreign Policy Initiative
DEREK SCISSORS, Heritage Foundation
MICHAEL MAZZA, AEI
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Dan Blumenthal is the director of Asian Studies at AEI, where he focuses on East Asian security issues and Sino-American relations. He was recently named a research associate for the National Asia Research Program, a joint undertaking of the National Bureau of Asian Research and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He has served on the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission since 2005, including as vice chairman in 2007, and has been a member of the Academic Advisory Board for the congressional US-China Working Group. Mr. Blumenthal was previously senior director for China, Taiwan and Mongolia in the office of the secretary of defense for international security affairs during George W. Bush's first administration. He has written articles and op-eds for The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Weekly Standard, National Review and numerous edited volumes. He will publish a book this year entitled, “Bridging the Gap,” an economic and national security view of China.
Ellen Bork is the director of Democracy and Human Rights at the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI). She came to FPI from Freedom House, where she worked on projects assisting activists and dissidents around the world. She previously served as deputy director of the Project for the New American Century, a foreign policy think tank. She was additionally an adviser to the chairman of the Hong Kong Democratic Party, and a professional staff member for Asia and the Pacific at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and at the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Latin American Affairs. Ms. Bork’s work has appeared in publications including The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times and The Weekly Standard. She has participated in election observation missions to Afghanistan, Cambodia, Indonesia and Ukraine and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a board member of the International Campaign for Tibet and a member of the District of Columbia bar.
Michael Mazza is a senior research associate in Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at AEI, where he studies US defense policy in the Asia-Pacific region, Chinese military modernization, cross-Strait relations, and Korean peninsular security. Apart from writing regularly for AEI’s Enterprise Blog, he is also the program manager of AEI’s annual Executive Program on National Security Policy and Strategy. In his previous role as research assistant at AEI, Mr. Mazza contributed to studies on American strategy in Asia and Taiwanese defense strategy. He worked previously as a policy analyst assistant at SAIC and as an intern at Riskline Ltd, and has lived and studied in China. Mr. Mazza has written op-eds for The Wall Street Journal Asia, The Los Angeles Times, National Review Online, ForeignPolicy.com, The Weekly Standard and The American.
Derek Scissors is a research fellow in economics at The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center, where he studies the economies of China and India, as well as broader economic trends in Asia, and related challenges facing the United States. Mr. Scissors has testified before the U.S. House of Representatives on rare earth elements, the U.S. Senate on exchange rate disputes between America and China, and the US-China Economic and Security Commission on Chinese investment in America. His analysis and commentaries have appeared in publications including Foreign Affairs, National Review, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal’s Asia edition, The Financial Times, The Washington Post and Indian news outlets such as The Hindu. He has also appeared on numerous major TV and radio outlets. Mr. Scissors is an adjunct professor of Chinese economy at George Washington University, and before joining The Heritage Foundation in August 2008, he was China economist at the global consulting firm Intelligence Research. He wrote for the firm’s China Weekly Bulletin, China Watch and China Quarterly Forecast, and provided counsel to clients --primarily Fortune 500 executives -- on their China operations.