President Hu Jintao and his US counterpart, Barack Obama, held intensive talks on a broad range of issues at the White House Wednesday in a meeting that set to be one of the year’s defining diplomatic events.
Speaking at a ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, Hu said, “I hope that through this visit, our two countries will advance the positive and comprehensive relationship and open a new chapter in our cooperation as partners.”
The two countries should respect each other’s path of development and core interests, while seeking to learn from each other through exchanges and to achieve mutually beneficial progress, Hu added.
Obama replied that the past 30 years had been “a time of growing exchanges and understanding” between the two states and that “with this visit, we can lay the foundation for the next 30 years.”
The US welcomes China’s rise as “a strong, prosperous and successful member” of the community of nations, he said.
After the ceremony, the two leaders engaged in extensive and in-depth discussions on major topics of mutual interest.
However, the apparent highlight was the announcement of a raft of successful trade deals worth billions of dollars.
“We will be announcing that $45 billion of US export deals have been concluded, supporting 235,000 US jobs,” AFP quoted a senior US official as saying, adding that the total includes a massive $19 billion contract for 200 Boeing aircraft.
According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), US and Chinese energy companies announced a variety of partnerships at a conference organized by the Brookings Institution, a Washington think-tank.
Alcoa and China Power Investment Corp said they would collaborate on a broad range of aluminum and energy projects, both inside and outside China, totaling $7.5 billion in investments, the newspaper reported.
Klaus Kleinfeld, Alcoa’s CEO, told the WSJ that the Hu-Obama summit had brought the deal home.
“Had the date not been set for the state visit, (the agreement) wouldn’t have happened in a speedy fashion,” Kleinfeld said.
General Electric (GE) Energy announced a joint venture with Shenhua Group Corp to sell clean-coal technologies, the report added.
The two countries will also begin preparing for a jointly financed nuclear security center in China that aims to improve training and security at nuclear sites and to help keep better track of nuclear materials, Reuters reported.
However, such progress did not stop US officials from pushing forward disputes such as the trade imbalance.
Through a letter, a group of 84 US lawmakers urged Obama to tell Hu “that America’s patience is near an end” over China’s failure to play by trade rules, Reuters reported Wednesday.
In a new poll conducted by the Washington Post and ABC News, 61 percent of 1,053 Americans surveyed said they viewed China’s economy as more of a threat to US jobs than as an opportunity for new markets and investment.
The Washington Post commented that if the bilateral economic relationship is to be realigned, Chinese companies will have to contribute more jobs to the US economy than the current total of 10,000.
Ni Feng, at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the poll shows that Washington has been overstating certain disputes with Beijing.
“The US government doesn’t have quick and effective solutions for its economic predicament, so it mostly blames China for the problem in order to shift public attention,” he said.
After the talks, Obama and Hu were scheduled to join a meeting attended by top US and Chinese business representatives such as Microsoft’s Steve Ballmer, Goldman Sachs’ Lloyd Blankfein, GE’s Jeff Immelt and Boeing’s Jim McNerney.
After that, Obama was to host Hu at a state dinner at the White House, only the third such honor paid to visiting heads of state since Obama took office.
The two leaders also had a rare private dinner Tuesday night, shortly after Hu’s arrival.
The US government’s arrangements hinted at the importance Washington attaches to perfecting the visuals of Hu’s visit and of the desire by officials there to ease tempers after rocky months for Sino-US relations, AFP reported.
Hu will go to Capitol Hill today for a meeting with Republican and Democratic congressional leaders. He will deliver an address at the US-China Business Council before flying to Chicago.
The New York Times
When President Hu Jintao walks into the Eisenhower Executive Office Building with President Obama on Wednesday to face a group of 18 American and Chinese business leaders, much of the clash will be about a new economic battlefield – inside China itself.
China’s inferiority in ‘hard power’ has turned to Beijing’s advantage, and signs of its growing ‘soft power’ abound
The administration officials focused on China understand that tending bilateral ties is a task that will extend over generations. The Hu visit, in that respect, will not solve anything – it is just a way station on a much longer journey.
The leader of the world’s second economy was received with honors that the US rarely extends to anyone, not even its allies.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung
Hu Jintao will try in America to reduce the fears caused by China’s rise. What is more important, however, is that the nice words should be followed up by action.