China, US officials to pave way for Xi’s visit

Beijing, Aug 11 (IANS) China and the US will exchange visits by officials in preparation for the upcoming September visit of President Xi Jinping to the US, the first state visit by a Chinese president since 2011.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Monday that several senior US officials will visit China in August and September, while officials from China will also visit the US, People’s Daily reported.

Niu Jun, a professor of international relations at Peking University, said that apart from finalising the schedule and ceremonial details of Xi’s visit, the officials are likely to exchange views on cyber-security and the South China Sea.

These issues have raised tensions in the months since the visit was officially announced in February.

“Reports in the US media accusing China of being the biggest online hacking suspect have made cyber security a top issue in bilateral relations at the moment; and the tone doesn’t seem to have lowered despite the upcoming visit of state leaders,” Niu said.

“As for the issue of the South China Sea, the two sides are still working to find a solution acceptable to both to manage the regional situation,” he added.

China-US relations warmed up after US President Barack Obama visited Beijing in November. Agreements on extended business, tourist and student visa policies and carbon emission reduction were some of the major achievements of the meetings.

More recently, a controversy has arisen over reports carried by The New York Times in which China was accused of stealing the personal information of millions of Americans by hacking the database of the Office of Personnel Management.

In addition, tensions have been growing over the South China Sea. China has expressed concerns about US military surveillance overflights, and US officials have criticised China’s construction activity on the Nansha Islands.

Some US politicians and news media often bash China, despite the generally healthy bilateral relationship between the two countries. Bilateral trade approached $600 billion last year and 270,000 Chinese students, about a third of all international students currently in the US, are studying in US universities and colleges.


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