September 24, 2015

US struggles to get to grips with Xi

By Richard Fontaine

Source: The Financial Times

When Xi Jinping became China’s leader in late 2012, many in Washington breathed a sigh of relief. After the stilted exchanges with his predecessor Hu Jintao, US officials welcomed the arrival of a president who appeared more comfortable in his own skin.

As Mr Xi arrives in Washington on Thursday for a state visit laden with tensions between the two governments, the Obama administration is not quite so sure what to make of the Chinese president. Few doubt Mr Xi’s rapid assertion of control over the Chinese bureaucracy, but in place of the economic reformer many had expected, Mr Xi is seen as more ideological, more opaque and potentially more wary of foreign companies.

“We really thought we got a read on him and the expectations were that this guy was more dynamic, engaging and potentially able to push through reforms more effectively than his predecessor,” says Ken Lieberthal, a former White House official now at the Brookings Institution think-tank. “Now, I think there are problems understanding who Xi is.”
 
Read the full article at The Financial Times.
  • Richard Fontaine

    President

    Richard Fontaine is the President of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). He served as a Senior Advisor and Senior Fellow at CNAS from 2009-2012 and previously as fo...