Protocol dictates that the interlocutor of US President Vice President Joe Biden in China should be his opposite number, Vice President Xi Jingping, who is expected under the Chinese ten-year rotation pattern to ascend to China's top post in 2013.
However if the names were not familiar, one could imagine that the two were Richard Milhouse Nixon and Leonid Brezhnev at a Moscow or San Clemente Summit. At these summits during the 1970s, there were endless speeches on how the relation between the two nuclear superpowers was crucial for the world's safety and development. Now we are hearing the same in terms of relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China
The relationship between the two countries has become critical to the state of the global economy. Vice President Biden emphasized the point in his opening address when he told his host““The economic stability of the world rests in no small part on the cooperation between . . . the United States and China…It is the key, in my view, to global economic stability.”
Xi reciprocated: “Under the new circumstances, China and the United States share even broader common interests and co-shoulder more common responsibilities. Enhancing the China-U.S. relationship fits not only the interests of the two nations, but also that of the world.”
The Chinese have, however, pointed out that this cooperative relationship, although mutually beneficial, is not yet secure. They are leery of American politicians who may engage in actions hostile to China in the run-up to the top 2012 general election.
There are Americans who resent China's rise to great power status even though it does not threaten US interests. What is necessary, said Xi, " to ensure the healthy and steady development of China-U.S. relations, is to respect each other's core interests,"
Xi defined these core interests as follows: The Chinese people cherish the development path and political system of their own choosing, state sovereignty and territorial integrity. This means that China will not be lectured to about its one-party system of government and restriction of political and other freedoms.
Sovereignty is defined by the Chinese as the absence of subversive activity carried out by human rights organizations.
Secondly "Taiwan and Tibet-related issues, which concern China's core interests and the feelings of 1.3 billion Chinese, should be handled prudently and properly to avoid damaging China-U.S. relations." The major irritant is the pending arms sale by the United States to Taiwan on which the US is projected to reach a decision on October 1.
The Chinese have pointed out that America stated years ago that it had no long-term arms policy towards Taiwan, but here, 29 years, later another arms deal is in the pipeline.
On the first Biden enjoyed more leeway and reassured his hosts that the United States fully recognizes that issues related to Taiwan and Tibet are part of China's core interests.
He said the United States will firmly stand by the one-China policy and will not support "Taiwan independence," adding that the U.S. fully acknowledges that Tibet is an inalienable part of China.
On the democracy issue, particularly since events in the Middle East Biden where the United States defends democracy ,Biden could not publicly give ground. If China is savvy enough ,it can fully realize that the United States is in no position to take effective steps to influence the internal situation in China.