A Long March with China

US Vice President Joe Biden’s recent four-day visit to China ended on a high note. But, behind all the smiles and toasts at such events, serious issues and perception gaps continue to divide the world’s two great powers.

BEIJING – US Vice President Joe Biden’s recent four-day visit to China ended on a high note. He assured Chinese leaders that the United States is committed to honoring all its debts, despite its recent credit downgrade; he talked enthusiastically about US-China interdependence; and he showcased his granddaughter, who has studied Chinese for several years, as a future bridge between the two countries.

But, behind all the smiles and banquet toasts, serious issues and perception gaps continue to divide the world’s two great powers.

For starters, there is always an attitude problem. To those who view China’s rise in a negative light, the country is simply becoming ever more arrogant. It is getting tough in its territorial disputes with Japan in the East China Sea; it is becoming assertive in the South China Sea with its neighbors, also over disputed islands; it put its own stealth fighter on display during the US defense secretary’s visit to China; it is sending its first aircraft carrier out to sea for trials, indicating the possibility of establishing naval bases in the Indian Ocean. Even a brawl between the Chinese and a visiting American basketball team is viewed as evidence of China’s aggressive behavior.

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