China media: US visit

Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart, Barack Obama, shake hands at the end of their joint news conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on 12 November 2014. Image copyright AP
Image caption State media say a state visit would help maintain stability

China's state media welcome the recent announcement that President Xi Jinping could visit the US, voicing hope for an improvement in ties.

US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on Friday that Washington had invited Mr Xi on a state visit later this year.

A report in the Global Times' Chinese edition thinks the trip will be a "significant expression of friendly China-US ties".

A commentary in the paper insists Beijing is not opposed to Washington's much-trumpeted "pivot to Asia", but adds that "stability in China-US ties is essential" for the success of the strategy.

"Mr Obama understands this, so inviting Chairman Xi to visit is to an important step to ensure such stability," says the article.

While pointing out that major differences still exist, the China Daily urges both sides not to let these "stand in the way of improving bilateral relations", and to be "aware of where to toe the line so as not to infringe upon each other's core interests".

Although China last week protested against Mr Obama's attendance at a prayer event with the Dalai Lama, the China Net news portal praises the US president for not directly meeting the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, saying this shows the White House does not want the Tibet issue to hurt relations.

It adds that the invitation to Mr Xi demonstrates that Washington "clearly understands that Beijing is no longer a weak opponent".

But noting that the US has also invited Mr Abe to a state visit, the commentary adds that Washington is "still playing a balancing act between China and Japan".

"Long-term effort is still required to build up mutual trust between Beijing and Washington," it concludes.

Tumbling trade

In economic news, papers focus on prospects for Chinese growth after figures that showed a 10.8% decline in total trade volume from a year earlier.

According to the data released on Sunday, exports fell 3.2%, while imports slumped 19.7%, far worse than analysts' expectations, reports say.

Dismissing fears of weaker growth, the state news agency Xinhua highlights that the January data is a "routine decline" ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, which falls on 19 February this year.

"The trade data always turns out discouraging at every year's beginning because of the Lunar New Year," Liu Xuezhi, a financial researcher with the Bank of Communications, tells the news agency.

The pundit adds that "the data thereafter can reflect the real situation of China's foreign trade".

Experts interviewed by the Global Times also blame the fall in exports on "seasonal distortions".

But the People's Daily is concerned about the sharp decline in imports, saying this reflects weak domestic demand, and cautions that the outlook for global trade is "not too optimistic".

And finally, some media outlets strongly criticise calls for independence for Hong Kong, and urge the territory's authorities not to tolerate such views.

According to the Global Times, some protesters waved the British colonial-era Hong Kong flag during a recent rally, hoping to "detach Hong Kong from China".

Condemning the "absurd rabble-rousing" of the "separatists", the editorial says such an idea "stems from hostility against China and communism".

"They seemingly long to return to the colonial era," the paper adds, urging the governments in Beijing and Hong Kong, as well as Hong Kong society, to "safeguard national security and not to tolerate such views".

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