With Xi Jinping’s upcoming trip to the US (from the 22nd to the 28th of this month), speculation is beginning to rise about what fruits such a visit will bring about for relations between the two countries. Moreover, many are taking the occasion—which will mark a Chinese President’s fourth attendance to a White House state dinner—to reflect upon the current condition of US-Chinese relations: how they have changed, developed, and gotten to the point they are currently at.
Hu Jintao’s 2011 state dinner was a lavish occasion for the two heads of state to exchange gracious, complementary words for each other’s respective country and administrations to the backdrop of Jazz and other Americana elements, as requested by the former Chinese leader. However, outside the gala there was a different story involving a mob of protesters bringing to light the uncomfortable aspects of the two countries’ relationship. Such issues then were kept out of the gates of the White House (with small exceptions) and this week they will likely be kept out as well. They won’t be entirely out of view, however.
While there will certainly be protests by Tibetan, Taiwanese, Human Rights, and other interest groups critical of the Chinese leader in attendance outside the events gates, it is almost certain that pro-China supporters will also attend in an effort to counter-balance the protesters’ efforts. A recent post on popular Chinese social media platform WeChat by what appears to be a student group at American University details acceptable protocol for participating in protest in the United States. It includes such innocuous advice as “don’t litter”, but also more serious tips such as how to act if arrested. Whatever happens, it is certain that Xi Jinping’s trip to Washington D.C. will be a benchmark moment for the relationship of the two countries; dissenters and supporters alike.