A state visit to China during the first year in office is unprecedented for a U.S. president, but Barack Obama has made it. Moreover, the fact that President Obama spent four days and three nights of his seven-day visit to four Asian nations in Beijing and Shanghai has demonstrated the importance his administration attaches to China and to Sino-U.S. relations in its global strategy.
A tour of the Forbidden City and the Great Wall in Beijing, symbols of China's long history and rich culture, and a meeting with young Chinese in the coastal city of Shanghai, the country's most modernized metropolis, certainly provided President Obama rare opportunities to gain first-hand impressions of China's past and a better understanding of its present.
The more substantial and fruitful results of the visit, however, are reflected in the comprehensive consensus and commitments the two countries reached and made on a wide-range of issues articulated in a joint statement issued after "in-depth, productive and candid" talks between Chinese President Hu Jintao and President Obama.
The 6,000-character document touches on five areas: China-U.S bilateral relations; strategic trust; economic cooperation; regional and global challenges; and climate change, energy and environment.
Strategically, the two sides vowed to establish and deepen bilateral mutual trust. They are committed to building a positive, cooperative and comprehensive China-U.S. relationship for the 21st century, and will take concrete actions to steadily build a partnership to address common challenges.
On the bilateral front, the two countries pledged a series of measures to promote exchanges and cooperation in the fields of trade, agriculture, military, science and technology, civil aviation and space, public health and clean energy.
On the regional and global fronts, they vowed to make more concerted and joint efforts to address major challenges such as the situations in the Korean Peninsula and South Asia, the ongoing financial crisis, nuclear nonproliferation, climate change and environment, and antiterrorism.
Judging from these consensus and commitments, one can at least draw the following positive, significant conclusions:
The United States welcomes China as a strong, prosperous and successful country, and recognizes its increasingly important role in regional and world affairs.
The relationship between the two countries has never been as comprehensive and substantial as it is now. If all the listed measures are implemented, it will certainly reach new heights.
China and the United States now share more common interests and a broader basis for cooperation on numerous critical issues relating to global stability and prosperity, and shoulder more important common responsibilities.
The two sides also have realized the nurturing and deepening of bilateral strategic trust are essential to China-U.S. relations, and promised to respect each other's core interests in developing the relationship.
All these demonstrate the outcome of the summit meeting was fruitful and positive and President Obama's visit successful.
It has, however, to be pointed out the United States should take greater action to guarantee the smooth development of China-U.S. relations in times to come. This includes recognizing China's market economy status, eradicating restrictions on the export of U.S. hi-tech products to China, ensuring the safety of Chinese assets in the United States, refraining from adopting trade protection measures against China; and stopping arms sales to Taiwan.