A little time down memory lane. That was what Xi Jinping did when he was in the US for a preparatory visit to meet the American leaders before his appointment as the new leader of China. His trip included a side trip to a little town called Muscatine in Iowa, in the heart of America. He was there 27 years ago as a young govt official to learn about farming, agriculture and pig rearing from the Americans.
China started to open up 30 years ago and one of the most important countries to learn from was America. They have sent armies of young technocrats and govt officials, students and businessmen to learn everything they could from the most advanced and prosperous country of the 20th Century.
Today, practically everything American is in China, technology, pop culture, fashion, the cowboy jeans, American businesses and factories are in China. In a way China is more American than the Americans could ever believe. The Chinese are also producing goods at ridiculously low prices to feed the Americans and reducing their cost of living. And there is no anti Americanism in China. The occasional flare ups were mostly provoked by the Americans but the reactions petered off quickly. The noise made was more of patriotism and pride of a rising China than xenophobia and anti America.
The visit of Xi Jinping to America was to bolster ties and seek avenues for more cooperation and mutual interests. It is a relationship that is of paramount importance for the two countries and for the world. If the two countries can maintain a cordial working relation, promote trade and economic growth, the world could see more pleasant times ahead.
On a personal level the warmth between Xi Jinping and his hosts was quite genuine. Joe Biden was a great host, and so were the people of Muscatine. Obama also stretched out his hands of friendship. Unfortunately such gestures of friendliness often proved shortlived and the Americans would return to their anti China rhetoric in no time. And provocations, insinuation, bickering, accusations etc would return to the American media. And the coming Presidential Election would present a convenient stage for more anti Chinese jingoism.
The kiss and kill relationship between the two countries will go on and on and is not expected to die down for years to come. There is great rivalry for influence and power despite the need to cooperate and prosper in many other fields. As long as the bickering can be contained with kiss and make up along the way, there is still hope that the rivalry will not break out into open conflict. The alternative is unimaginable.