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Obama Addresses Town Hall Meeting in Shanghai

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U.S. President Barack Obama met with local political leaders in Shanghai, China Monday and held a town hall meeting with Chinese college students.

At the town hall meeting, Mr. Obama answered questions from the audience and submitted by the Chinese public on various Web sites, including Xinhuanet, Sohu and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

The Chinese government carefully controlled media coverage of the event, allowing it to be broadcast on local television but not nationally.

In opening remarks, Mr. Obama announced that the U.S. would expand the number of American students studying in China to 100,000. 

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US, China Must Cooperate

During the question and answer session, Mr. Obama said there are very few global challenges that can be solved unless the U.S. and China cooperate.  He called climate change one of the most critical challenges and said the world will be watching what the U.S. and China do on the issue.

The president also said that universal rights of expression, religious freedom and free information should be available to everyone, including in China.

On the sensitive topic of Taiwan, Mr. Obama said the United States supports a one-China policy.  He added that he hopes for improved China-Taiwan ties, and he said economic links had helped lower tensions across the Taiwan Strait.  He did not answer a question about arms sales to Taiwan.

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Obama To Meet Hu

Mr. Obama now travels to Beijing to meet Monday evening and Tuesday with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Mr. Obama has said he plans to raise the issues of human rights and religious freedom.  The leaders are also likely to discuss the North Korean nuclear program, climate-change negotiations, and economic growth.

China owns more than $1 trillion in U.S. debt, making it Washington's biggest foreign lender. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday that President Obama understands the U.S. has to rely less on China's funding over time.

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Clinton: US Wants Good Relations

In a television interview Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press, Clinton described the countries' relationship as positive and cooperative, saying Washington wants more comprehensive engagement with China.

She said there have been positive results already in Beijing's approval of international sanctions against North Korea and its support for engaging Iran on its nuclear program.

The U.S. president says Washington seeks to deepen its cooperation with Beijing, not contain the Asian power.

In a major speech on Asian affairs in Tokyo Saturday, Mr. Obama said the United States welcomes China's efforts to play a great role in the world.

But he said the U.S. will never waver in speaking up for values it cherishes and said a discussion about human rights can take place in a spirit of partnership.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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