Peter Foster: Discord that jangles through the tense relationship between the US and China
THE White House has been rolling out the diplomatic red carpet this week for the future president of China, welcoming Xi Jinping to Washington with as much pomp and circumstance as his current rank of vice president allows.
To borrow the Chinese term, the Obama administration is giving “face” to Mr Xi: first there was a meeting in the Oval Office with President Obama (an honour generally reserved for close allies) and then a glittering dinner of Delaware crab cakes and roast beef at the Naval Observatory, the official residence of the US vice president.
It was a full turn-out in honour of the man who will take the reins of power in Beijing this autumn, with Joe Biden, the vice president, supported by the US secretaries of state, defence, treasury, agriculture and commerce as a symbol of the breadth and importance of the US-China relationship in this, the “Asian” century. But, as the British pianist Sam Haywood played Gershwin and Chopin, it was not hard to detect the note of discord that jangles through that relationship. Disputes range from China’s undervalued currency, to trade practices, human rights abuses and the pressing security questions of Iran and Syria.