Xi To Visit White House In February

The White House confirmed on Monday that Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping will make a Valentine’s Day visit as he cements his status as President Hu Jintao’s successor. From AFP:

Xi, who will officially be the guest of his opposite number Vice President Joe Biden on February 14, will also travel to Iowa and California during his visit to the United States, the White House said.

In Washington, Xi “will meet with the president, the vice president, and other senior administration officials to discuss a broad range of bilateral, regional, and global issues,” a White House statement said.

The visit of Xi will reciprocate a visit by Biden to China last year. Both visits were announced by Obama and President Hu Jintao during the Chinese leader’s visit to the White House a year ago.

Xi set the mood for his upcoming visit last week in Beijing, when he stressed his commitment to a “cooperative partnership” between China and the United States. A spokesman with the U.S. embassy in Beijing told The China Daily that Xi’s trip will extend the promotion of public diplomacy that the two sides have sought in previous high-level meetings, while one China observer told Reuters that Xi’s visit represents an opportunity for the United States to wipe the slate clean:

“The man Biden’s hosting, barring something no one foresees at this point, will become the head of China, head of the Communist Party, head of the government and head of the military,” said China expert Kenneth Lieberthal of the Brookings Institution in Washington.

“This is really a chance for the Obama administration to look forward to the succession and post-succession period in China and begin to establish critical personal relationships and a personal comfort level back and forth.”

The two powers have delicate issues to work through, ranging from currency policy to differences over how to halt the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea, to China’s recent crackdown on critics and activists that has drawn U.S. criticism.