Obama and Xi must do more than agree to disagree’  

Washington, Sep 23 (IANS) Former US president Jimmy Carter has said that Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Barack Obama must use their meeting later this month to do more than simply agree to disagree on many issues.

“I was governor of Georgia when president Nixon made his historic visit to China in 1972, and was disappointed when no additional moves were made to establish diplomatic relations between our two countries,” Carter wrote in an article for the People’s Daily.

“I set this as a high priority when I became president, and initiated high-level negotiations with Chinese leaders. These efforts became successful when Vice Premier Deng Xiaoping and I announced on December 15, 1978, that full mutual recognition would take place at the beginning of the next year,” he said.

Deng Xiaoping announced three days later that dramatic reforms would take place in his country, and that it would be “opened up”. Few people anticipated how these two decisions would so drastically affect the global community, said Carter.

“Since leaving office, I have made regular visits to China, and have been welcomed by its top political leaders, those in the private sector, and by private citizens in many communities.”

The Carter Center has been asked by the government to perform important duties, including the implementation and assessment of fully democratic elections in China’s 600,000 villages, which include almost two-thirds of the population.

Carter is the founder of the non-profit Carter Center, which works to advance peace and health worldwide.

“During my four visits with President Xi Jinping in recent years, he has stressed, like Deng Xiaoping before him, the need for our political leaders to respect each other in spite of the dramatic differences in our history, culture and political systems,” the former US president said.

“It has always been clear that in both countries there are potential political leaders who, for their own benefit, have blamed the other country for domestic problems and tried to exacerbate the inherent differences that always exist.”

Like the US, China is facing many serious domestic challenges. China is struggling to shift from a relatively burgeoning economy based on exports to one that is accommodating increasing dependence on domestic consumers.

Unlike in the past, its political and economic impact is felt in almost every corner of the globe, he said.

China has remained at peace with its neighbours and others for the past 35 years, but its expansion of influence has brought it into contention, especially relative to its southern and eastern seas.

“Although many of my successors as president have made negative comments about relations with China during their campaigns, almost all of these have been moderated when they were elected to our nation’s top office. I am sure the same situation has existed in China.”

The first official state visit for President Xi Jinping to the US will offer him and President Obama a chance to explore how the nations can deal with each other as equals.

“The Chinese must understand that America would like to see a peaceful, prosperous, and free China and that we do not wish to undermine the rise of China. Similarly, Americans need to understand that China differs from the Soviet Union that we faced in the Cold War. China needs to be encouraged to participate in and defend the international order governed by international laws and norms,” Carter said.

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