The United States and China have alternately embraced and poked each other in the eye during a three-day visit by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta that reflects the two superpowers’ growing, and sometimes conflicting, strategic ambitions.
On Wednesday, Panetta met with Xi Jinping, the Chinese vice president who is expected to lead the country for the next decade. Xi had mysteriously vanished from view for much of September and canceled a meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Xi and Panetta shook hands vigorously for the cameras and proclaimed their commitment to a closer relationship between Beijing and Washington.
That scripted encounter, however, followed some chillier examples of the mistrust the United States and China still harbor about each other’s intentions.