Knowledgeable about beyond-Beltway America, China’s presumptive next president, Xi Jinping, “belongs to the school (of Chinese leaders) that Americans should be able to establish a good working relationship with,” former Ambassador to China J. Stapleton Roy told CCTV News. The current Chinese vice-president, who is on track to ascend to the presidency in early 2013, has made “many trips” to the United States and is familiar with America’s Heartland, having taken part in a 1985 trade delegation to Iowa, one of the stops, along with California and the White House, on this week’s itinerary.

Trade is a dominant component of the U.S.-China relationship, Roy said, stressing that China is a fast-growing export market for agricultural goods, and key to meeting the administration’s challenge to double U.S. exports by 2015. Friction, of course, exists in any relationship between such large economies, but U.S. business appears more concerned about licensing and intellectual property issues than concerns over currency manipulation. “Vice-President Xi’s visit is an important signal to show that the relationship is moving in the right direction,” Roy said. “This is a relationship that has enormous potential in one of the most promising areas of the world, which is East Asia.”