* Expected next leader of China sees shared responsibility
* Xi open to coordination on North Korea, Iran hotspots
* Obama sets up unit to investigate unfair trade practices
* Geithner: U.S. wants to see yuan appreciate more rapidly
By Chris Buckley and Doug Palmer
WASHINGTON, Feb 15 China's
leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping wooed and warned the United States
on Wednesday, offering deeper cooperation on trade and global
troublespots while demanding Washington heed Beijing's demands
on Tibet and other contentious "core interests."
Xi, who is almost sure to become China's next president in
just over a year from now, laid out his views on ties with the
United States in the keynote speech of his visit to Washington.
His message was dominated by reassuring vows about more
balanced economic ties and more international cooperation. But
he also underscored Beijing's impatience with U.S. policies on
Taiwan and Tibet -- issues where many Chinese citizens expect
their leaders to show they will stand up to foreign pressure.
"The world is currently undergoing profound changes, and
China and the United States face shared challenges and
shoulder shared responsibilities in international
affairs," Xi told a ballroom crowded with U.S. business
executives, academics and policy-makers involved with China.
"We should further use bilateral and multilateral mechanisms
to enhance coordination between China and the United States on
hotspots, including developments on the Korean peninsula and the
Iran nuclear issue," said Xi.
Xi's visit to United States this week has given him a chance
to boost his international standing before his likely promotion
to head of China's ruling Communist Party later this year and
president in early 2013.
Although his speech revealed no new policies, his offer to
work with Washington on dealing with Iran's and North Korea's
nuclear ambitions could ease U.S. worries that Xi could drive
foreign policy in a more hawkish direction.
Yet even as Xi continued his U.S. visit, both sides nudged
each other on some of the issues that have fanned friction.
President Barack Obama took aim at China's trade policies,
saying he will not stand by when American's competitors "don't
play by the rules." And members of Congress
pressed Xi on China's detentions of human rights activists.
The Chinese vice president offered his own warnings about
Tibet and Taiwan, two territories where Beijing fears that it
claims could be undermined by Western pressure.
"History demonstrates that whenever each side handles
relatively well the issues bearing on the other side's core and
major interests, then Sino-U.S. relations are quite smooth and
stable. But when it is the contrary, there are incessant
troubles," he said.
Washington should "abide by the one-China policy and take
concrete actions to oppose Taiwanese independence," he said.
"We also hope that the United States will truly implement
its recognition that Tibet is part of China and its vow to
oppose Tibetan independence, acting prudently in issues
concerning Tibet," he added.
In early 2010, the Obama administration's decision to move
forward with proposed arms sales to Taiwan triggered vehement
criticism from Beijing, including warnings of sanctions against
U.S. companies involved in the sales.
Those warnings petered out, but Xi made clear that Taiwan
remains an acute concern for Beijing's dealings with Washington.
Tensions over Chinese control of Tibet have flared in past
months when a succession of protests and self-immolations have
exposed volatile discontent. Chinese officials have blamed those
tensions on separatists or supporters of the Dalai Lama, the
exiled Buddhist leader of the region.
Xi also acknowledged the Obama administration's recent
"pivot" toward Asia, but warned it not to push too far.
"China welcomes the United States playing a constructive
role in promoting the peace, stability and prosperity of the
Asia-Pacific region, and at the same time we hope the U.S. side
will truly respect the interests and concerns of countries in
the region, including China," said Xi.
Xi, 58, is poised to become China's next leader following a
decade in which it has risen to become the world's second
largest economy while the United States has fought two wars and
endured the deepest and longest recession since the Great
Depression that sapped its resources.
Xi met with House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner
and Senate Majority Harry Reid on Wednesday morning and after
his speech headed to Iowa for the next leg of his trip, which
finishes later this week in Los Angeles.
Boehner's office said his staff delivered a letter on the
case of Gao Zhisheng, a dissident and human rights lawyer
imprisoned in China. The House Speaker also expressed
disappointment at China' veto of a U.N. Security Council
resolution on Syria.
Many U.S. lawmakers complain that China's yuan currency is
significantly undervalued, giving Chinese companies an unfair
price advantage that helped lift the U.S. trade deficit with
China to a record $295.5 billion in 2011.
Xi said currency reforms already taken by Beijing helped
boost U.S. exports to China to more than $100 billion in 2011
and has significantly reduced China's overall trade surplus.
"China has become the United States' fastest growing export
market," Xi said. "The trade surplus as a proportion of GDP has
been falling from over seven percent to two percent, at a level
internationally recognized as reasonable."
U.S. Treasury Secretary Geithner acknowledged on Wednesday
that Beijing is gradually letting its currency rise, but not
fast enough to please the United States.
"We think they have some ways to go, we would like them to
move more quickly," he told a congressional panel.
Xi repeated Beijing call for the United States to eliminate
restrictions of exports of high-technology civilian goods, which
he said would help bring trade into balance.
Beijing has given the Obama administration a framework for
promoting two-way trade and investment, he said.
"Speaking frankly, an important aspect of addressing the
imbalance in Chinese-U.S. trade is the United States' own
economic policies and structural adjustment," he said.