U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has arrived in China for the start of a five-day trip. The purpose of his visit is to build a more personal relationship with China’s future leaders – particularly with his counterpart, Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, who is poised to be China’s next president. Since the focus is on building a more personal connection, Reuters has called this trip a “charm mission”.
Biden views foreign policy as more than just formal visits; he says it’s about “establishing relationships and trust.” Furthermore, he believes: “The economic stability of the world rests in no small part on the cooperation between the United States and China. It is the key, in my view, to global economic stability.”
The trip seems to be off to a great start, with Biden and Xi coming together in Beijing, in a bilateral meeting that actually lasted 45 minutes beyond what was scheduled. Discussion topics covered nearly the full range of issues, including the world economy, trade, human rights, as well as regional concerns in the Middle East and North Korea. Later this weekend, Biden and Xi will spend more time together touring the city of Chengdu in Sichuan Province.
Greater personal engagement with China’s leaders has been a priority of the Obama administration. Since 2008, Obama and Chinese president Hu Jintao have met nine times. Such exchanges have historically proven to be an important tool in stabilizing the complex US-China relationship, which in turn has lasting effects for the rest of the world.
On a lighter note – there’s no doubt that Biden’s trip will get tons of coverage, especially since the American vice president is known for colorful personality quirks that media have dubbed “Bidenisms.” For example, as the L.A Times writes:
There are some Bidenisms that can’t get enough mileage. As Xi introduced the vice president to a member of the Chinese delegation during the formal arrival ceremony, Biden revived one of his favorite lines: “If I had hair like yours I’d be president.”
Biden is known for having an “everyman” kind of charm. If these “Bidenisms” prove to be an effective diplomatic tool, here’s to hoping we hear more of them throughout the trip!
Photo Courtesy of AFP/Getty Images.