Beijing (AsiaNews) - After nearly two weeks of absence, Vice-President Xi Jinping
has reappeared in his first high-level meeting with U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon
Panetta. The talk's agenda concentrated
on closer military cooperation, and an increased U.S. presence in the Pacific. Meanwhile,
China has bought more U.S.
treasury bonds its holdings now up to 1.15 trillion dollars.
Xi Jinping met his host in the setting of the Great Hall of the People, replete with chandeliers and chairs. In recent weeks, the almost certain successor to Hu Jintao as president and secretary of the Party, had canceled several meetings with leaders of foreign countries, giving rise to waves of rumors about a possible serious illness or increased struggle within the Party. Today he appeared healthy and relaxed.
Panetta arrived in Beijing to push for a strengthening of ties between China and the U.S., "the two great nations of the Pacific", especially in the military field. As a sign of friendship, he announced that the United States will invite a Chinese ship to participate in naval exercises to be held in 2014 in the Hawaiian sea.
Panetta's visit to Beijing is part of a week-long trip, which also includes Japan and New Zealand. It aims to increase the presence of U.S. forces in the region. Although many countries look to the U.S. presence as a deterrent to the expansionist Chinese, Panetta said that the increase in U.S. military personnel in the Pacific is not dictated by the wish to contain Beijing, but "engage China and expand its role in Pacific. " "The aim is to create - he said - a new model in the relations between our two powers in the Pacific."
As Panetta arrived in Beijing tension mounted between China and Japan over the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands / Senkaku. The U.S. Defense Secretary appealed for calm on both sides and described US policy as based on "basic principles" including free commerce, the rule of law, open access to sea, air, space, and cyberspace, and resolving disputes "peacefully without coercion or the use of force . He also showed that U.S. hegemony in the Pacific over the past 60 years had helped bring prosperity to the region and that China had profited from it.
China, however, is not satisfied regarding shipping routes and unhappy over some claims of sovereignty not only for the Diaoyu, but also for the Spratly Islands.
On the other hand, Beijing has increased its leadership as the biggest foreign owner of U.S. debt. In July, it acquired still 2.6 billion dollars in United States treasury bonds, reaching a market share of 1.15 trillion dollars. For three months, China had not bought any bonds. According to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce, in July, Beijing recorded a 29.4 billion dollar trade surplus with the U.S. in July, pushing the year-to-date amount to 174.4 billion.