Today Xi Jinping will make a speech to the United Nations in New York. Currently the largest contributor to the UN’s peace keeping force, Xi hopes to solidify international respect for the fledgling economic super power. This will mark the conclusion of the Chinese leader’s six day trip to the states from the 26th to the 28th of September.
The trip began in Seattle with Xi delivering a speech heavy with culture references including the claim that China’s fight over corruption is nothing like the popular TV show House of Cards and that the film Sleepless in Seattle has made the city something of a household name in China.
Last Friday President Obama welcomed Papa Xi (as has become a popular moniker amongst many Chinese citizens) to the White House for a state dinner, making China the only country to have two state dinners hosted in their honor under the Obama Administration. Attended by a large contingency of tech giants regardless their legality in China (i.e. Mark Zuckerburg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, currently banned in China). The dinner was an opportunity for the leader’s wives to show off designer dresses and themselves to engage in a warm exchange of niceties. Xi quoted Abraham Lincoln saying “The best way to predict the future is to create it” as a means to usher in his desire to open “a new historic chapter in China-US relations.” Obama quoted the Chinese proverb: “a sea accepts a hundred rivers” to encourage continued efforts between the countries to smoothly overcome their respective differences.
With these events behind him, Xi will arrive at New York with intentions to promote China’s position on a variety of topics as previously outlined by their already released position paper for the conference. He will promote, among other things, more incorporation of developing countries into international politics, preventative measures to combat global warming, the fight against terrorism, respect for human rights, and so on.
Xi Jinping’s trip to the US is defining for a few reasons. Xi was accompanied by his wife who is leading a sort of soft power campaign that was left out in the past (in 2011, Hu Jintao’s wife did not accompany him to the states) and also tried his hand at pop culture references. This is certainly far more emotion than he displayed at China’s stern military parade early this September. Not forgetting this event, Xi will be keen to bring up the 70th anniversary of the end of the “War against Fascism” at the United Nations. Of the five countries allowed to make vetoes in the UN since 1971, China has only issued 9 compared to the 78 issued by the US. That said, 6 of China’s 9 vetoes have been issued since 2000. China appears to be becoming more comfortable under the international spotlight, and Netflix-referencing Xi Jinping is the man at the helm.