Xi to Meet Panetta Amid Health Rumors

After cancelling a series of meetings with foreign dignitaries, China’s president-in-waiting Xi Jinping is to meet with U.S. Defense Secretary Panetta on Wednesday amid swirling rumors about Xi’s health and an escalating territorial dispute between China and Japan. From Craig Whitlock at The Washington Post:

In addition to meeting Xi, Panetta is scheduled to visit a People’s Liberation Army naval base, give a speech to Chinese cadets and tour a submarine and frigate.

His arrival in China comes at a time of heightened security tensions in the region, as well as an ongoing effort by the Obama administration to reassert its strategic interests in Asia.

Earlier Monday, for example, the United States and Japan announced they will expand a shared missile defense system in East Asia by installing a new, high-powered radar in southern Japan.

[...] Although Washington and Tokyo have repeatedly denied that the missile defenses are designed to counter China, the developments have heightened suspicions in Beijing that a secondary aim of the program is to contain China’s growing military power in the region.

See also ‘Pentagon Plans New Missile Defence in Asia‘ and more on Xi Jinping via CDT.