President Xi Jinping will join around 50 world leaders in Washington on Thursday for the fourth Nuclear Security Summit and hold a bilateral meeting with his US counterpart Barack Obama amid growing concerns over a belligerent North Korea and nuclear terrorism.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi too will join the summit that will focus on the global nuclear security situation.
Xi will deliver a keynote speech at the plenary meeting, laying out Beijing’s policies and propositions, and according to the foreign ministry, “…introducing China’s new measures and achievements in the field of nuclear security and putting forward substantial initiatives to strengthen global nuclear security”.
Much of the real action during the two-day summit is likely to be on the sidelines, where Xi is slated to meet Obama to discuss a wide range of issues, including Pyongyang’s tests of a nuclear bomb and a battery of missiles.
There is no confirmation whether Modi and Xi will meet on the sidelines as well.
The focus will be the Obama-Xi meeting, where the outgoing US President is likely to urge the Chinese leader to take a stronger stand against North Korea, its reclusive – and many experts say, rogue – ally.
“If North Korea has already become a nuclear power that gives the US a strong excuse to basically do something in South Korea or to strengthen Japan,” Xu Guoqi, a US-China relations expert at University of Hong Kong, told the South China Morning Post.
“China can never walk away from North Korea with honour, (but) to allow them to behave this way will drag everyone into a big mess,” he said. “There’s a Chinese saying – when you’re on the tiger’s back, it’s very hard to get off.”
Vice foreign minister Li Baodong told a recent briefing that Xi would also attend a nuclear security-related “interactive discussion on simulative scenes”.
China’s focus, Li said, was to “continuously pool international consensus on enhancing nuclear security to effectively cope with the emerging new situations and new challenges”.
Li added it was important to “…beef up international cooperation in nuclear security, and strengthen coordination and cooperation of international nuclear security mechanism”.
China has been critical of the US’s handling of the terror-related security situation, connecting it with nuclear security as a whole.
Describing US’s stand on terror as “hypocrisy”, China’s official media has said Washington’s stance is dictated by self-interest.
“Such hypocrisy has been repeatedly shown, including in the case of China’s first anti-terror law, which Washington denounced by saying it ‘would do more harm than good’, and in the case of the Kunming rail station attack in 2014, when Uncle Sam refused to call the attackers ‘terrorists’ even though they brutally stabbed 31 people to death,” the official Xinhua news agency said in an opinion piece.