Nightly News | February 14, 2012
>>> a week ago. back in this country, it's not every day the number two official from a foreign country gets the full red carpet treatment in washington, but today someone did. and the reason here is he is next in line to be the leader of china . that explained a lot about the welcome today. our chief foreign affairs correspondent andrea mitchell has more on today's charm offensive and the man we'll be hearing a lot more about.
>> reporter: he is only china 's vice president, but 58-year-old xi jingping is second in command in china 's military and could be running china for the next decade. at the pentagon, xi was given full honors, even as china now challenges the u.s. in the south china sea . and vetoed the u.n. resolution against syria last week. today, xi faced human rights protesters at the white house . and criticism from president obama about human rights and unfair trade practices.
>> with expanding power and prosperity also comes increased responsibilities. and so we want to work with china to make sure that everybody is working by the same rules of the road when it comes to the world economic system.
>> reporter: u.s. officials are sizing xi up. his background provides some clues. xi's father, one of china 's original revolutionaries was purged by mao and jailed for being too pro reform. xi himself was exiled for seven years to a work camp during the cultural revolution . his daughter attends harvard. his nephew is in georgetown. and in 1985 , xi went to iowa to learn how to raise hogs.
>> he slept in the kids' rooms with " star wars " on the wall. he sat around our dining room table. we just gave him an iowa welcome.
>> reporter: xi is said to like world war ii movies like "saving private ryan." and in china last summer, joe biden shot hoops with him. but today, biden pointedly said the u.s. and china do not always see eye to eye .
>> it is a sign of the strength and maturity of our relationship that we can be candid about our differences as we have been.
>> reporter: but the bottom line is the u.s. and china are stuck with each other. china finances our debt, and we are their single biggest customer. and that makes it critical to figure out more about this new chinese leader. brian?
>> andrea mitchell in our d.c. news room tonight. andrea, thanks.