XI, Pope Grab The Headlines In The U.S
Who is winning?
NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is arriving in the United States today, kickstarting his second visit to the country since coming to power. The Prime Minister will address the UN sustainable development summit in New York, take part in a meeting hosted by US President Barack Obama on peacekeeping, meet with Fortune 500 CEOs at a working dinner, mingle with tech giants in Silicon Valley, and then end his US tour with a rockstar-esque address at the SAP Centre Arena in San Jose.
Impressive, but no one in the US seems to really care. The US -- media, politico and common folk alike -- are more preoccupied with two other high profile visits. For one, Chinese Premier Xi Jinping is in the US. Xi began his US tour on Tuesday, delivering a keynote address to about 650 business executives and other guests in Seattle. "If China and the US cooperate well, they can become a bedrock of global stability," Xi said. "Should they enter into conflict or confrontation, it would lead to disaster for both countries and the world at large." The keynote address reassured business and government officials on a long list of issues, including economic reform, cyber attacks and human rights.
On the Chinese Premier’s itinerary is a black tie dinner hosted by President Obama, and a highly anticipated address to the United Nations. Cyber security is expected to figure heavily in the discussions between Xi and Obama, with the US accusing China of stealing some $300 billion in intellectual property from US firms by hacking into their private systems. Xi seems to be in the mood to cooperate. “The Chinese government will not in whatever form engage in commercial theft, and hacking against government networks are crimes that must be punished in accordance with the law and relevant international treaties,” he said in Seattle.
Now the Chinese Premiere is a smart man. He is facing some domestic debacles at home as a repercussion of the Chinese economy slowing down. Nothing he has done yet seems to have reversed the slump. Cue the United States. The Chinese Premiere needs a win to help bolster his position back home, and the US is the perfect setting to try and secure that as the two countries have butted heads over a range of issues. As a bargaining chip, Xi made sure he spent a few days mingling with tech and business bigwigs in Seattle, thereby demonstrating to Washington exactly how important China is to the US tech community and overall economy.
The second world leader that PM Modi will have to compete with for the US’ (and world’s) attention is Pope Francis. Pope Francis set off his first visit to the US with a combination of the splendor of an ancient revered religious institution and the rock-star fanfare that has come to follow the current Pope wherever he goes. The Pope arrived at the White House on Wednesday and then addressed jubilant crowds as he highlighted the issues of climate, poverty and immigration.
"I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development," the Pope said, in what is being considered an appeal for a more inclusion vision for capitalism.
The Pope also complimented President Obama for his efforts at tackling climate change. It is "encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem that can no longer be left to a future generation,” he said, adding that “when it comes to the care of our 'common home' we are living at a critical moment of history.”
Perhaps most significantly, however, the Pope made a clear reference to the politics of immigration, introducing himself as as the son of the kind of "immigrant family" on which America was built.
After his first U.S. mass, before 20,000 ticketed congregants on the grounds of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the Pope met with 15 Native Americans in a private reception.
Today, the Pope will make his first ever address to the US Congress, which will be broadcast live. After the address, he will be hosted by St. Patrick's Catholic Church and Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese.
The Pope will then leave for New York where he will hold an evening prayer at St. Patrick's Cathedral. On Friday, he will attend the UN General Assembly, after which, he will lead a procession through Central Park. He will cap off his New York visit with mass in Madison Square Garden.
In Philadelphia, the Pope will hold mass at Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, visit Independence Mall, hold a papal meeting with bishops at St. Martin's Chapel of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Wynnewood, visit Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, and will end his visit to the US with an interaction with organizers, volunteers and benefactors of the World Meeting of Families.
The US, therefore, is playing host to some very powerful men. Add to the fray the hundreds of other world leaders who are in the country for the UN General Assembly, and we are set to see the world’s largest and most impressive balancing act.
Is the US worried? “We treat every leader the same…so from our perspective the level of honors and pomp and circumstance, roughly speaking, are going to be equivalent,” U.S. Chief of Protocol Peter Selfridge told the Wall Street Journal.
Officially, PM Modi, President Xi and The Pope (and the other hundreds of leaders) are all equally important. The reality, however, is rather different.
Of all the heads of states, President Xi has gotten the most media coverage, mostly in the form of an analysis of US-China relations. Not surprising given China’s technological and economic importance. PM Modi, on the other hand, has been virtually left out of media headlines, with little to no coverage on his visit.
In fact, even Xi has been relegated to the sidelines by another world leader… Pope Francis’ visit is the top story across US newspapers and media channels, with journalists following the religious leader’s every move. Over 7,500 media representatives applied for credentials to cover the important visit, according to Lauren Ashburn, papal visit communications director for the Archdiocese of Washington.
So whilst every leader is equal in the US’ official eyes, the real hierarchy goes something like this (in ascending order): All world leaders (including PM Modi) -- President Xi -- The Pope!