Heir Apparent Sets Mood For U.S. Visit

Xi Jinping, expected to succeed Hu Jintao as the head of the Chinese Communist Party and China’s next president, set the stage Monday for an important upcoming visit to the United States. From Reuters:

“No matter what changes affect the international situation, our commitment to developing the Sino-U.S. cooperative partnership should never waver in the face of passing developments,” Vice President Xi told a meeting in Beijing.

“In dealing with major and sensitive issues that concern each side’s core interests, we must certainly abide by a spirit of mutual respect and handle them prudently, and by no means can we let relations again suffer major interference and ructions.”

“I will soon visit the United States at the invitation of Vice President Biden, and I hope that my visit can play a positive role in advancing the Sino-U.S. cooperative partnership,” Xi told the gathering of officials, diplomats and scholars commemorating 40 years since U.S. President Richard Nixon made his historic, ice-breaking trip to China in 1972.

Xi met with U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner in Beijing last week, and could visit the U.S. as soon as February as he raises his profile ahead of a leadership transition that should begin late this year. Last week, The China Daily hailed Geithner’s trip as a promising sign that China and the U.S. could still get along, and expressed hope that more high-level visits on both sides would help continue the cooperation going forward.