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Chinese prez Xi begins his first US visit, tries to allay fears

world Updated: Sep 24, 2015 00:40 IST
Yashwant Raj
Yashwant Raj
Hindustan Times
Chinese President

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrives for his welcoming banquet on the start of his visit to the United States, at the Westin Hotel in Seattle, Washington. (AFP Photo)

Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Tuesday began his first state visit to the US saying his country will not indulge in currency manipulation or commercial theft.

And, he added, in an address to American business executives in Seattle, China will improve human nights and speed up market reforms, hitting all major red-button issues that have strained ties with the US.

The Chinese government will not, in whatever form, engage in commercial theft, and hacking against government networks are crimes that must be punished in accordance with the law and relevant international treaties,” Xi said.

But, he made clear that the two countries must not get confrontational. “If China and the US cooperate well, they can become a bedrock of global stability…,” he said.

“Should they enter into conflict or confrontation, it would lead to disaster for both countries and the world at large,” he added, according to a report on his speech by Reuters.

President Xi is reaching DC on Thursday for two days that will include a private lunch with President Barack Obama, a state department lunch and a state dinner.

Though this is his second visit to the US as president, this is his first state visit — the last one, in 2014, was an informal one spent with Obama at a California ranch.

The last state visit an Indian leader got was in 2009, when the Obamas hosted then prime minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur, as their first state guests.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who met President Obama at the White House in 2014, was hosted at a private dinner with the president and a state department lunch with the vice-president.

Xi’s visit comes at a time of heightened concerns in the US about China’s currency manipulation — Donald Trump’s favourite China slam — cyberattacks and commercial theft.

Recent reports, just a few days before, suggested the US is planning to slap sanctions against Chinese companies, all of them state actors suspected of cyber theft.

“This (state-sponsored, cyber-enabled economic espionage must isn’t a mild irritation,” US national security advisor Susan Rice said Monday in a speech on Xi’s coming visit. “It is an economic and national security concern to the United States.”

Cyber espionage has long since ceased to be an irritation. A crippling intrusion into US federal personnel database was traced recently to Chinese hackers, again state backed.

US officials have said Obama will bring up these issues, and all others, with Xi, but said, the demand for breaking off contact, because of them, was ‘dangerous’ and ‘short-sighted’.