Posts tagged: Xi Jinping

Remarks by President Obama & President Xi Jinping After First Day of Meetings


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release                                June 7, 2013




Sunnylands Retreat

Palm Springs, California

5:21 P.M. PDT


     PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Well, it gives me great pleasure to welcome President Xi back to the United States.  We first met during my visit to China in 2009, and I had the opportunity to welcome him to the Oval Office last year when he was still Vice President and a guest of Vice President Biden’s.

     I think some of you may know that President Xi is no stranger to the United States.  He’s remembered fondly in Iowa, where he once visited and stayed with a local family, and on his trip last year, he had a chance to come to California — including, I understand, going to a Lakers game, which I was very jealous of.  (Laughter.)

     President Xi just took office in March.  Our decision to meet so early, I think, signifies the importance of the U.S.-China relationship.  It’s important not only for the prosperity of our two countries and the security of our two countries, but it’s also important for the Asia Pacific region and important for the world.

     And the importance of this relationship in some ways is reflected with this somewhat unusual setting that we are hosting the President in.  Our thought was that we would have the opportunity for a more extended and more informal conversation in which we were able to share both our visions for our respective countries and how we can forge a new model of cooperation between countries based on mutual interest and mutual respect.  I think both of us agree that continuous and candid and constructive conversation and communication is critically important to shaping our relationship for years to come.


     And for my part, this will give me an opportunity to reiterate how the United States welcomes the continuing peaceful rise of China as a world power and that, in fact, it is in the United States’ interest that China continues on the path of success, because we believe that a peaceful and stable and prosperous China is not only good for Chinese but also good for the world and for the United States.

     Of course, as two of the largest economies in the world, we’re going to have a healthy economic competition, but we also have a whole range of challenges on which we have to cooperate, from a nuclear North Korea — or North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs — to proliferation, to issues like climate change.


     And the United States seeks an international economy and international economic order where nations are playing by the same rules, where trade is free and fair, and where the United States and China work together to address issues like cybersecurity and the protection of intellectual property.


     In addition to the strategic concerns that we share and the economic challenges that each of our countries face, I will continue to emphasize the importance of human rights.  President Xi has spoken of a nation and a people that are committed to continuous self-improvement and progress, and history shows that upholding universal rights are ultimately a key to success and prosperity and justice for all nations.


So I want to again welcome President Xi to the United States.  We’re very glad that he’s here.  Inevitably, there are areas of tension between our two countries, but what I’ve learned over the last four years is both the Chinese people and the American people want a strong, cooperative relationship, and that I think there’s a strong recognition on the part of both President Xi and myself that it is very much in our interest to work together to meet the global challenges that we face.  And I’m very much looking forward to this being a strong foundation for the kind of new model of cooperation that we can establish for years to come.


So welcome, and thank you very much for being here.


PRESIDENT XI:  (As interpreted.)  Honorable President Obama, it’s my great pleasure to meet you.  We’re meeting with each other earlier than people might have expected.  They thought that we might have to wait until the Saint Petersburg G20 summit to meet with each other, but here we are.  I want to thank you for your invitation, and it’s my great pleasure to meet you here at Sunnylands, the Annenberg Estate.


This is a wonderful place, a place of sunshine, and it’s very close to the Pacific Ocean.  And on the other side of the ocean is China.  When I visited the United States last year, I stated that the vast Pacific Ocean has enough space for the two large countries of China and the United States.  I still believe so.


And, Mr. President, we’re meeting here today to chart the future of China-U.S. relations and draw a blueprint for this relationship and continue our cooperation across the Pacific Ocean.


     And this reminds us of what happened over 40 years ago when the leaders of China and the United States, with the strategists’ political courage and wisdom, realized a handshake across the Pacific Ocean and reopened the door of exchanges between China and the United States.  And in the more than 40 years since then, the China-U.S. relationship has gone through winds and rains and it made historical progress.  And our two peoples and the people elsewhere in the world have reaped huge benefits from this.


     And at present, the China-U.S. relationship has reached a new historical starting point.  Our two countries have vast convergence of shared interests, from promoting our respective economic growth at home to ensuring the stability of the global economy; from addressing international and regional hotspot issues to dealing with all kinds of global challenges.  On all these issues, our two countries need to increase exchanges and cooperation.

     And under the new environment, we need to take a close look at our bilateral relationship:  What kind of China-U.S.  relationship do we both want?  What kind of cooperation can our two nations carry out for mutual benefit?  And how can our two nations join together to promote peace and development in the world?  These are things that not just the people in our two countries are watching closely, but the whole world is also watching very closely.

     Both sides should proceed from the fundamental interests of our peoples and bear in mind human development and progress.  We need to think creatively and act energetically so that working together we can build a new model of major country relationship.

President Obama, I look forward to having in-depth communication with you on major strategic issues of common interest to deepen our mutual understanding and to push forward all-round cooperation.  I’m confident that our meeting will achieve positive outcomes and inject fresh momentum into the China-U.S. relationship.

     Thank you.

     PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Thank you very much, everybody.

                        END           5:34 P.M. PDT

Xi-Obama Agenda: Time to Talk Press Freedom?

Sunnylands’ golf course – will this lady be President Xi’s caddy?

President Obama and China’s new president, Xi Jinping (pronounced See Gin-ping) have much to discuss in their two days of informal meetings scheduled to begin Friday in Sunnylands, California.  Economic ties, cyber-espionage, North Korea, the United States’ “pivot” to Asia, will all likely be on the agenda.

One small critical item that needs to be on that agenda: China’s increasingly hostile treatment of foreign journalists, especially those foreign journalists whose stories the Chinese government does not like.

Freedom of the press is limited for the Chinese domestic media.  The Chinese government still supports certain state-run media outlets which serve as its mouthpiece and even the independent, commercial media is subject to censorship, including daily instructions on what not to report.  It likely comes as a shock to the Chinese government that it cannot control the foreign press in quite the same way.

But that doesn’t mean it does not try.  Over the past year, in response to critical articles and coverage, the Chinese government has attempted to censor the press with something that many fear most: a denial of a journalist visa during the annual renewal period or a visa renewal that is conveniently not processed.  In 2012 alone, four journalists, Al Jazeera’s Melissa Chan, the Washington Post’s Andrew Higgins, the New York Times’ Philip Pan and also Chris Buckley, have either been forced to leave China or not allowed to enter because of visa issues.

Buckley’s visa problems are likely attributable to his colleague, David Barboza’s hard-hitting series on the then Vice Premier Wen Jiabao’s family’s inordinate amounts of wealth.  Although Barboza’s visa was renewed, when Buckley’s visa expired on December 31, 2012, even though he put in for a renewal months prior, the Chinese government was still processing his paper work.  Without a valid visa, Buckley and his family were forced to leave China.  As of today – six months later – Buckley is still reporting from Hong Kong and waiting on his visa.

China’s visa vendetta diplomacy may seem minor but it doesn’t have to stay that way.  Right now, the Chinese government has decided to deal with recalcitrant foreign journalists by not renewing their visas or in some cases toying with their visas (in a 2012 survey, the Foreign Correspondents Club of China found that a third of its members surveyed stated that they had difficulty renewing visas.  The majority of those journalists believed – or in some cases were told – that their difficulty was a result of specific reporting).

But each one of these reporters are also subject to Chinese law, including Chinese criminal law.  Articles 102 to 112 of the Criminal Law criminalize behavior that is a threat to national security.  In particular, Articles 105 and 111 are commonly used to censor dissent and carry prison terms of 3 years, 5 years, 10, life or death depending on the severity of the circumstances.

  •             Article 105: “Whoever instigates the subversion of the political power of the state and overthrow the socialist system through spreading rumors, slandering, or other ways….”
  •             Article 111: “Whoever steals, secretly gathers, purchases, or illegally provides state secrets or intelligence for an organization, institution, or personnel outside the country….”

Article 4 of the Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on News Coverage by Permanent Offices of Foreign Media Organizations and Foreign Journalists (“Regulations”) makes clear that foreign journalists are subject to China’s laws, including its criminal law.  Although the Regulations were amended in 2008 to take out specific prohibitions against endangering China’s national security and using foul means to carry out news coverage (see Article 14 of the earlier regulations here), the fact that these provisions were deleted does not shield foreign journalists from those provisions of the Criminal Law dealing with the same issues – Articles 105 and 111.

As the cases against Stern Hu – a naturalized Australian business man and Rio Tinto executive – and Xue Feng – a naturalized U.S. citizen and geologist – demonstrate, China will bring criminal charges against foreign citizens. Hu, whose case began as a “state secrets” case, was given 10 years; Xue was given 8 years in his “state secrets” case.

So far, the Obama administration has remained publicly silent about China’s attempted censorship – through the visa process – of American journalists and American media companies.  Hopefully there is behind the scenes discussions about this issue and that it will be discussed during the next two days.

If the issue is not raised and highlighted as a priority, that silence will come with a price.  As foreign journalists continue to write hard-hitting exposes on China, the Chinese government will begin to realize that its visa vendetta diplomacy has not had the intended effect and might resort to another tool in its tool box against foreign journalists – China’s vague and expansive “endangering national security” provisions of its Criminal Law.

2012 An Election Year…..In China

By , September 21, 2009

The United States is not the only country that will face a potential leadership change in 2012.  Under the Chinese Constitution, the President of the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”) is limited to two consecutive five-year terms,

Heir Apparant?  Current Vice President of China, Xi Jinping

Heir Apparent? Current Vice President of China, Xi Jinping

forcing the current Chinese president, Hu Jintao (pronounced Who Gin-Tao), to step down in 2012.  This past weekend saw a setback for his presumed successor, Xi Jinping (pronounced She Gin-Ping).

Unlike the U.S., a change in leadership in China is anything but apparent and requires the successor to simultaneously hold three positions:  General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party (“CCP”); President of the PRC, and Chairman of the Central Military Commission.  Only by filling these three roles is the individual considered the paramount leader.  The person to fill these posts is hand-selected by the current CCP leadership, even for President of the PRC, which is arguably not a party position.  But in a country with one-party rule, the National People’s Congress of the PRC (“NPC”) merely confirms the successor chosen by the Party leadership.  Click here for an in-depth illustration of the Chinese government and party structure.

While the next leader of the PRC will be only the fifth since the PRC’s founding in 1949, the road to that position is fairly settled.  First is the presumed leader’s appointment to the CCP’s Politburo Standing Committee.  The Politburo Standing Committee, currently made up of nine members, is the highest-ranking decision making body of both the Party and the Chinese government.  Second is the individual’s “election” by the NPC to the position of vice-president of the PRC (again more a rubber stamp of the Party’s selection than an actual election).  Finally, the individual, usually three years prior to the change in leadership, is appointed to the vice-chairmanship of the Central Military Commission (CMC) by the CCP.  The CMC controls the People’s Liberation Army and while there is a Party CMC and a government CMC that is supposed to be independent from the Party CMC, the two are identical, with the same people filling the same positions in both CMCs.  Although nominally accountable to the NPC, in reality, the government CMC answers to the Party.

Xi Jinping, 56, just needed the final appointment of vice-chair of the CMC to be solidly on the road to paramount leader.  In 2007, he was appointed to the Politburo and 2008, elected vice-president.  But this past week, in a shock to most China-watchers, the CCP closed its annual meeting without designating a new vice-chair of the CMC.  Current President Hu was appointed to the vice-chairmanship of the CMC three years prior to his accession to top leader.  The same was true of his predecessor, Jiang Zemin.  Is China in the wake of a succession crisis?

Some argue no; that the pattern established by Mr. Xi’s predecessors is not set in stone; perhaps he will be appointed vice-chair of the CMC next year.  But what is causing this delay?

Many speculate that there is dissension amongst the top ranks of the Party as to who should be the paramount leader in 2012.  Underneath the veneer of uniformity and consensus that the Party maintains to the outside world, lies at least

Looking over the rice fields, Vice Premier Li Keqiang - President Hu's Protegee

Looking over the rice fields, Vice Premier Li Keqiang - President Hu's Protegee

two factions that often wrestle for control.  Interestingly, Mr. Xi is not the chosen heir of President Hu Jintao.  Instead, President Hu’s protégé has been Li Keqiang (pronounced Lee Kah-Chiang), a mentee of his from when he headed up the Chinese Communist Youth League.  Mr. Li was appointed to the Politburo at the same time as Mr. Xi but was ranked lower in command of that body.  Then in 2008, when Mr. Xi was elected to the office of Vice President, Mr. Li was elected as Vice-Premier, signaling that Mr. Li would take over the premiership in 2012.

While Mr. Li is a member of President Hu’s faction of “Youth Leaguers,” Mr. Xi is a member of former President Jiang Zemin’s “Shanghai Clique.” As Cheng Li of the Brookings Institute points out, there is a big difference between the two factions.  The Youth Leaguers are more concerned about the growing inequities between the rich and poor in China and providing a better social safety net for those areas of China negatively impacted by its quick economic rise.  The Shanghai Clique on the other hand stresses economic development, high GDP, and continuing China’s integration into the world economy.  Currently, the CCP leadership is evenly split between the two factions.

Furthermore, since ascending to the vice-presidency, Mr. Xi has at times been outspoken of China’s foreign critics, contrary to the diplomatic image that President Hu works hard to portray.  While on a state visit to Mexico and before a crowd of overseas Chinese, Mr. Xi criticized China’s critics stating that “a few foreigners with full bellies who have nothing better to do than try to point fingers at our country.”

However, Mr. Xi has the support of the powerful Shanghai Clique and appears to, at least in the past, have had the support of President Hu and the Youth Leaguers since Mr. Xi was appointed to the Politburo and elected to the vice-presidency.  Mr. Xi’s appointment to vice-chair of the CMC has likely been postponed, affording the leadership time to work out fundamental issues pertaining to the direction of China is this current economic crisis.

While what happens in the inner workings of the Chinese Communist Party is anyone’s guess, most likely Mr. Xi will become paramount leader in 2012.

Let's Shake on It - Former PRC President Jiang Zemin and Current PRC President Hu Jintao

Let's Shake on It - Former PRC President Jiang Zemin and Current PRC President Hu Jintao

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