Obama, Hu vow to continue to strengthen partnership

President Obama wrapped up his tour of Asian countries, which included stops in Japan, Singapore, China and South Korea. He addressed security and environmental policy, the economy and U.S.-Asia relations.
By Keith B. Richburg
Tuesday, November 17, 2009

BEIJING -- President Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, emerged from two hours of talks Tuesday morning pledging to continue efforts to strengthen the growing partnership between the two countries, and to work together to address global challenges such as climate change, nuclear proliferation and sustaining the world's nascent economic recovery.

Hu, speaking first, called the talks "candid, constructive and very fruitful," and said the two leaders agreed "to stay in close touch, through visits, telephone conversations, correspondence, and meetings at international forums."

He also said that as the world economy "has shown some positive signs of stabilizing and recovering," it is important for both countries to "oppose and reject protectionism in all its forms."

Obama also called climate change and nuclear proliferation "challenges that neither of our nations can solve by acting alone." He said the two will continue to "build a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship."

Confronting the sensitive issue of human rights, Obama said American values of freedom of speech and assembly are "universal rights, and they should be made available to all people." He said the two sides agreed to "continue to move this discussion forward," specifically in an upcoming human rights dialogue next year.

Obama said the two sides agreed to seek a "more balanced economic growth" in the future, in which the United States "saves more, spends less and reduced long-term debt." In exchange, he said, China agreed to increase its domestic demand, meaning relying less on its cheap currency to drive exports. The United States is now China's most important export market, while China is the largest holder of U.S. debt.

"This will lead to increased U.S. exports and jobs on the one hand, and higher living standards in China on the other," Obama said.

On climate change, Obama said the two leaders agreed on "a series of important new initiatives," including the establishment of a joint clean energy research center. Obama said that "there can be no solution to that challenge without the efforts of both China and the United States."

The two leaders took no questions, as had been planned, after their statements.

"I'm very happy to have talks with you," Hu told Obama at the start of the meeting. "You have worked actively to promote this relationship."

Obama replied, "We believe strong dialogue is important not only for the U.S. and China, but for the rest of the world."

The two already met once over dinner Monday night, shortly after Obama arrived in the frigid Chinese capital from Shanghai. National security adviser James L. Jones described that meeting between as an "informal dinner discussion" in which the two leaders discussed "the evolution and histories of China and the United States."

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2009 The Washington Post Company