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June 02, 2013

Washington Week: Focus on China

by Suzanne Presto

The economic realties for America's middle class and farmers will be prominent domestic issues this week, but Washington's focus will be on U.S. relations with China.

The 24th anniversary of pro-democracy protests in Beijing's Tiananmen Square and the military crackdown there on June 4, 1989 will be on lawmakers' minds in Washington Monday. Members of the House of Representatives will discuss that crackdown and continue to call for public accountability for the officials responsible for enforcing martial law.

China remains a focus at the end of the week, when President Barack Obama travels to California for meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping. It will be their first meeting since Obama was re-elected and Xi was promoted to head of the Chinese Communist Party in November.

Discussions will be wide-ranging, says White House Press Secretary Jay Carney. "But also, certainly, a topic of conversation will be North Korea; stability in Asia; expanding our bilateral military ties; climate change and cyber-security," he said.

U.S. lawmakers and officials have expressed concern in recent months about reports that the majority of cyber-attacks on the U.S. are emanating from China.

Deputy Homeland Security Secretary Jane Lute said, "We have raised this issue of the attacks that are emanating from actors in China with Chinese authorities. We have called on them to acknowledge it, take it seriously, understand it, to investigate it and stop it, and to work with us in creating broad norms of responsible cyber behavior."

Last week, the president's national security advisor Tom Donilon visited China, where he met with officials to lay the groundwork for this week's meetings.

And, two years after the U.S. president visited Chile, he will host Chilean President Sebastian Pinera. During Obama's five-day tour of Latin America in 2011, he discussed the importance of international cooperation. "When countries across Latin America come together and focus on a common goal, when the United States and others in the world do our part, there's nothing we can't accomplish together," he said.

On the domestic front, Obama will continue to visit U.S. cities to discuss job growth for the middle class, with unemployment at its lowest level since 2008. "Number one: we've got to make America a magnet for good jobs. Number two: we've got to help people learn the skills they need to do those jobs. Number three: we've got to make sure people's hard work is rewarded so that they can make a decent living doing those jobs," he said.

Back on Capitol Hill, senators will discuss the Farm Bill, a five-year, half-trillion-dollar package of conservation, nutrition and subsidy programs.