Obama holds talks with Hu, urges partnership and respect for human rights

Both President Obama and President Hu emphasized cooperation and healthy competition between the U.S. and China.
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, January 19, 2011; 3:23 PM

President Obama, hosting Chinese President Hu Jintao on a state visit, said Wednesday that the United States welcomes the "peaceful rise" of China and urged the one-party state to improve its human rights record.

In a news conference at the White House after talks with Hu and other top Chinese officials, Obama said the two countries have agreed to "move ahead with our formal dialogue on human rights. We've agreed to new exchanges to advance the rule of law." He referred to a human rights dialogue that was launched more than a year ago but that so far has produced only one meeting.

Obama also announced that a series of new commercial deals would increase U.S. exports to China by more than $45 billion, supporting about 235,000 American jobs, including many manufacturing jobs. At the same time, he said, China would boost investments in the United States by several billion dollars.

"As we look to the future, what's needed, I believe, is a spirit of cooperation that is also friendly competition," Obama said.

Hu said China is willing to have a dialogue on human rights but that it should be based on "mutual respect and the principle of noninterference in each other's internal affairs." he acknowledged that "a lot still needs to be done in China" on human rights.

Hu said China "is always committed to the protection and promotion of human rights" and that the country has made "enormous progress" that is widely recognized around the world.

The series of meetings with Hu at the White House included one attended by U.S. business leaders. Obama said at that meeting that he wants specific ideas on removing barriers to trade with China and protecting U.S. intellectual property. Hu said China is trying to increase its domestic consumption, a move that would relieve pressure to boost exports as a way to achieve economic growth.

Obama said at the news conference that an expansion of domestic demand in China not only would help U.S. exporters but would contribute to raising China's standard of living.

"I absolutely believe that China's peaceful rise is good for the world, and it's good for America," Obama said in response to a Chinese reporter's question. He said later in answer to another question: "We welcome China's rise. We just want to make sure that that rise occurs in a way that reinforces international norms, international rules and enhances security and peace, as opposed to it being a source of conflict in the region or around the world."

Earlier, Obama welcomed Hu to the White House with warm words about cooperation and sober reminders of the high stakes of the relationship between the two superpowers and the global importance of universal freedoms.

"We have an enormous stake in each other's success," Obama said. "Nations, including our own, will be more prosperous and more secure when we work together."

In his remarks, Hu said he hoped to "increase mutual trust" between China and the United States during his visit and build a "comprehensive" friendship for the 21st century.

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