Chinese media accentuates positives of Xi's trip

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping (center) inspects the honor guard February 14, 2012 outside the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia.

Story highlights

  • Chinese media plays up positives of Xi's U.S. visit
  • Muted commentary on issues such as human rights and Syria
  • Chinese media says Obama deflecting criticism of his domestic policies
Chinese media on Wednesday played up the positives in Xi Jinping's visit to Washington, avoiding mention of U.S. criticism of human rights but broaching issues of trade and U.S. discontent with the strength of the Chinese currency.
A commentary in the official China Daily said U.S. President Barack Obama was deflecting criticism of his own domestic political problems by drawing attention to the rivalry over the currencies, but that the U.S. administration had little heart for an open fight over the issue.
"When the Senate was about to vote on a bill to punish 'currency manipulators' last fall, the White House put it off with strong words and possibly behind-the-scene political maneuvers," the newspaper said in a commentary.
"Senior economic officials in the Obama administration know that unless all the major Asian currencies increase in value, even a drastic revaluation of the yuan would simply mean U.S. imports from China would just switch to the other countries in the region."
The U.S. has long called for the Chinese currency, the yuan or renminbi, to be floated to gain its true value. The administration claim that an artificially suppressed currency is unfair to U.S. exporters, making it cheaper for suppliers to source Chinese manufactured goods.
The timing of the visit was not lost on the pro-government Global Times which said the Valentine's Day meeting showed all the complexity of a romantic story.
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"China is a newcomer on the diplomatic stage of major powers. It is still unfamiliar with how to use its power and how to deal with provocations from smaller countries," the newspaper said in an editorial. "Facing giants like the U.S. and Europe, China is accustomed to acting with care. It never stirs up trouble willingly, instead, when a crisis occurs, China's first reaction is to seek to defuse tension."
A common theme in Chinese diplomacy and in its official media is that when backed into a corner, China must pursue its own interests.
"China does not need to satisfy the West at the expense of its own interests. China will not provoke the U.S. and Europe, but it has its own principles to follow," the editorial said. "Chinese officials should take opportunities to make the world understand these."
While the Chinese also have trade complaints against the U.S., in particular U.S. export controls on high-tech exports, there was no mention of issues that have seen China excluded from U.S. preferential trade right status.
Similarly, there was little mention of U.S. criticism of China's human rights record or its position on Syria, both of them sticking point in Sino-U.S. relations.
Xi -- who is being groomed for the Chinese presidency - is the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit since Obama launched a new U.S. policy in Asia in November designed to reassert its influence in the Pacific.
Beijing has expressed misgiving about the U.S. "pivot" which is pushing for a new free-trade agreement with at least eight countries in the Asia region and has secured military basing rights in Australia.