BRUSSElS – China is presenting its true image of “unbalanced development” to the US by arranging a tour in its western region for US Vice-President Joe Biden, European observers said.
They said Biden is following a group of foreign politicians who have had the chance to travel to less developing but dynamic western regions of China and are expected to help rebuild the country’s image in their minds.
According to his itinerary, Biden will visit Sichuan province, where a devastating earthquake hit in 2008.
“My understanding is that China needs the West, especially the US and Europe, to know the whole picture of China. Otherwise, they will request a lot of international responsibility from a country that still has a huge amount of needy people,” Men Jing, a professor on international relations with the Belgium-based College of Europe, told China Daily.
China’s economy has registered an average of 10 percent annual growth during the past three decades. China’s economy passed Japan’s last year, becoming the second biggest in the world, and the country has been branded as a world power along with the US.
But according to UN standards, while Shanghai enjoys a development status similar to Portugal, western provinces such as Guizhou and Gansu, and some counties in Sichuan where Biden is scheduled to visit, are on the same level as those in poor African countries.
Huang Weihua, senior manager of China Desk of KPMG Brussels, said she has noticed similar diplomatic arrangements, adding that Belgium’s Prince Philippe will visit Chongqing municipality in October while leading a 400-person business mission to several other cities in China.
“Economically, the world can not afford to ignore the western parts of China and at the same time, the visits can help them mind the gap,” Huang said. “Biden’s visit will also see huge market potential in western China.”
David Fouquet, director of the Asia Europe Project Information Service based in Brussels, noted that Biden’s visit came shortly after the US’ credit rating downgrade.
“Though the visit is long arranged, the new development will boost the urgency and significance of exchanges between China and the US,” said Fouquet.