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Chinese vice president to visit White House next month

This news story was published on January 24, 2012.
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By Michael A. Memoli, Tribune Washington Bureau –

WASHINGTON — Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping will travel to Washington next month for meetings with senior U.S. officials ahead of his expected ascendance to the nation’s presidency, a visit that will also include stops in Iowa and California, the White House announced Monday.

The trip to the White House is scheduled for Feb. 14 — Valentine’s Day. Xi will meet with President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and other senior officials “to discuss a broad range of bilateral, regional and global issues,” according to a statement from Biden’s office.

Xi is coming at Biden’s invitation, following the vice president’s trip to Beijing and Chengdu last August.

The reciprocal visits were first announced last year when current Chinese President Hu Jintao was honored at a White House state dinner. Xi is expected to replace Hu in 2013.

Biden’s trip last summer came on the heels of the U.S. debt ceiling showdown. He assured Xi and other Chinese leaders of his “absolute, unequivocal confidence in the strength and vitality and the growth of the American economy.”

The vice president has taken the lead role in guiding the administration’s policy toward China. In the keynote speech of his visit there, Biden spoke of the importance of strong ties between the two world powers.

“As great nations and as global actors, the United States and China face many of the same challenges and share many of the same responsibilities,” he said at the Sichuan University in Chengdu. “The more we can work together, the more our people will benefit and … the more the world will benefit as a consequence of our cooperation.”

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