Xi tipped to visit US in late February
Vice-President Xi Jinping is likely to make his highly anticipated visit to the United States in late February, say Sino-US specialists.
Professor Jin Canrong, a Sino-US affairs expert at Renmin University, said the White House was keen to receive Xi - who is expected to replace Communist Party general secretary Hu Jintao in October and rule for the following decade - as soon as possible.
Jin said Xi had made an impression on US Vice-President Joe Biden when Biden visited China in August.
'I was one of five Chinese Sino-US experts invited by Biden to share our opinions with him on his last day in China,' Jin said. 'He told us that he was moved by the government's hospitality during his trip, with Xi accompanying Biden on most legs of his visit, from addressing a trade forum to his near two-day tour of Chengdu in Sichuan .'
Xi is something of a mystery to the rest of the world and Biden stressed before his visit to China that he wanted to build up personal ties with Xi.
Jin said Beijing was ready for Xi's US trip any time, but the US Department of State was hesitating over a date. 'The Department of State is worrying that some political elites are going to stir up anti-Chinese sentiments and Xi will become a target to be attacked,' Jin said.
Another Beijing-based expert, Professor Shi Yinhong, also said that Xi was likely to visit Washington before March. 'It will not be a surprise if Xi decides to visit the US in late February because his trip will help the two countries to ease current potential tensions,' he said, referring to anger on the mainland over America's renewed focus on Asia and its involvement in territorial disputes between China and Southeast Asian countries in the South China Sea.
Professor Jia Qingguo, from Peking University's school of international studies, said with Taiwan's presidential election on January 14 and Beijing having to deal with the annual meetings of the National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in March, Xi was likely to opt for a late February visit.