China’s likely next leader Xi Jinping warned the United States against plans to boost its military strength in Asia as he prepared for a closely watched visit to Washington starting Monday.
China’s vice president, who is tipped to rule the rising Asian power until 2023, called on the United States to prioritize economic growth and promised anew that Beijing would address foreign concerns about its currency’s value.
In a written interview with The Washington Post, Xi said that the Pacific Ocean had “ample space” for both China and the United States but insisted that Asian countries were concerned foremost with “economic prosperity.”
“At a time when people long for peace, stability and development, to deliberately give prominence to the military security agenda, scale up military deployment and strengthen military alliances is not really what most countries in the region hope to see,” Xi said.
“We welcome a constructive role by the United States in promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the region. We also hope that the United States will fully respect and accommodate the major interests and legitimate concerns of Asia-Pacific countries,” he said.
US President Barack Obama, while seeking to trim vast military spending in response to budget pressure, has vowed to boost power in Asia where a number of nations have voiced concern at what they charge is a more assertive China.
The United States has moved in recent months to send troops to Australia and the Philippines. It has also sought to increase military ties with Vietnam and Singapore, while maintaining longstanding bases in Japan and South Korea.
The Obama administration has nonetheless tried to build personal bonds with Xi in hopes of future cooperation. China starts its power transition later this year, with Xi widely expected to succeed President Hu Jintao in 2013.
Xi arrives Monday and will enjoy a welcome Tuesday at the White House, including a meeting with Obama. He will also stop at the Pentagon for talks billed by US officials as significant in building military trust.
Xi will also visit Iowa — where he paid a formative first visit to the United States in 1985 as a low-ranking official — and Los Angeles.