Dan Gilmore / September 23, 2015

President Xi Needs an Uncomfortable Visit to U.S.

“We won’t paper over those differences,” says the White House.

Last year, Barack Obama visited China in an effort to rally support for an international treaty on climate change and underscore the economic opportunities the two countries have in working together. Oh, how things have changed. Chinese President Xi Jinping is in Washington, DC, this week, and the issues facing the two countries are more … awkward. The Chinese stock market plummeted at the end of August due to an opaque, centrally planned economic system, which rocked the global economy. China continues to grow belligerent in the Pacific, laying claim to vast swaths of the South China Sea, and sending ships to steam off the Alaskan coast while Obama visited the Arctic Circle. Furthermore, the country has detained American Sandy Phan-Gillis since March on charges of “spying and stealing state secrets.” This comes at a time when the U.S. strongly suspects it was China that stole the data of millions of federal employees and everyone who applied for a security clearance. “Denying ourselves engagement with the Chinese would deny ourselves the ability to advance our interests and to make clear to China where we stand,” said Ben Rhodes, deputy national security advisor for strategic communications. “We won’t paper over those differences.” We’re not holding our breath. After all, Obama’s paper tiger diplomacy has created room for China to flex its might toward America. An uncomfortable visit would do much to restore America’s spine in the relationship, so it’s too bad it’s going to be a lavish “state visit” instead.

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