Obama Pushes Hu on Rights but Stresses Ties to China

The U.S. and China pledged to nurture what they called the nations’ growing common interests, but also acknowledged differences in the areas of trade and human rights.

Obama_and_HuWASHINGTON — President Obama and President Hu Jintao of China both pledged to nurture what they called their two nations’ growing common interests, but they also acknowledged differences in the areas of trade and human rights as they held their eighth meeting in two years.

At a news conference encumbered by a lack of simultaneous translation, Mr. Obama pressed, though gently, on some of the longstanding differences, and Mr. Hu spoke mainly in generalities, giving no ground.

Mr. Obama said that when it comes to differences on human rights, “I have been very candid with President Hu.” But he said those differences ought not disrupt the search for better relations or obscure areas of agreement. Pressed to answer the same question, Mr. Hu said he too recognized the disagreements, but would engage in dialogue on its usual terms: that others not interfere in China’s internal affairs.

Mr. Obama repeatedly mentioned the touchy economic issues, saying several times that China’s currency is undervalued and that trade must be conducted on a level playing field; Mr. Hu emphasized that China’s development would benefit all.

President Obama welcomed Mr. Hu to the White House with an elaborate color-guard ceremony that included a colonial fife and drum band and a 21-gun salute.

The White House announced shortly after the ceremony that the Chinese government had agreed to buy 200 airplanes from Boeing in a $19 billion deal, the centerpiece of $45 billion worth of American exports to China that are tied to President Hu Jintao’s state visit to Washington. China has also agreed to scrap a policy that favors Chinese technology firms for big government contracts, a senior administration official said.

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Source: Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Mark Landler | The New York Times
Photo: Doug Mills | The New York Times