News / Asia

Hu Visit Comes During 'Critical Juncture' for US-China Relations

U.S. President Barack Obama and China's President Hu Jintao (File Photo).
U.S. President Barack Obama and China's President Hu Jintao (File Photo).
William Ide

Chinese President Hu Jintao arrives Tuesday in Washington D.C. for a state visit that some political analysts say will be the most important in 30 years. Relations between the two global powerhouses have become increasingly challenged and officials are expected to seek common ground on ways to bolster the world economy as well as air their differences on everything from North Korea to human rights and the value of the Chinese currency.  

The last time China's President Hu Jintao made a state visit to the United States was in April of 2006 when President George W. Bush was in office.

Since then, much has changed.

China has overtaken Japan to become the world's second-largest economy and survived the global financial crisis largely unscathed.  China's international influence is increasing, it has a growing military force and is becoming more assertive on the global stage.

The last year was marked by tense ties, as Washington and Beijing clashed on everything from the value of China's currency to trade disputes, human rights and North Korea.  Many issues are still unresolved and analysts say it is unrealistic to expect major breakthroughs during Mr. Hu's visit to Washington.

"In a way, success will be the atmospherics," said political scientist Christopher Hughes of the London School of Economics and Political Affairs. "And to send the message to domestic constituencies on both sides that the relationship is not an antagonistic one.  That there is room for cooperation and that both sides see that that has to be the way forward. Especially with the domestic feelings at China at the moment, which are very complex, very nationalistic, sort of growth in militarism in some quarters, to try to calm that down.  And on the U.S. side, equally to hopefully try and reduce this perception of China as a growing threat."

That is exactly the message, U.S. and Chinese officials have been sending prior to the start of the visit.

In a written interview with the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, President Hu stressed both sides would gain from a sound relationship and lose from confrontation.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the United States does not view China's rise as a threat and is not interested in constraining Beijing's growth. "America and China have arrived at a critical juncture - a time when the choices we make, both big and small, will shape the trajectory of this relationship," she said.

One area in which the United States feels China needs to do more to help improve the trajectory of the relationship is trade.

Although U.S. exports to China are growing, trade figures show the U.S. deficit with China for last year is already on track to surpass the annual record of $268 billion, which was set in 2008.  U.S. officials have spoken repeatedly about growing domestic demand in China and creating a fairer environment.

U.S. officials say American companies are growing increasingly frustrated with policies in China that give a competitive edge to those who make, conceive and design their products in China.  China's undervaluation of its currency is also a point of contention.

U.S. officials, lawmakers and economists argue that a higher yuan would make Chinese products more expensive and help ease the trade imbalance between the two countries.

Mr. Hu's visit will give ample attention to business and trade ties.  In addition to dropping by a meeting of business executives on Wednesday with President Obama, Mr. Hu will deliver his only policy address during the visit Thursday to a group of government officials and business leaders.

U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Thomas Donohue says that while the currency issue will be discussed, the real issue is greater access to Chinese markets. "We are going to work all those things in a positive way.  We are going to press to make sure we have a fair opportunity for American exports, which will create jobs.  And I am looking forward, I have been very engaged in this,  I am looking forward to a very positive visit by President Hu," he said.

Human rights is another area in which U.S. officials hope to change the trajectory of the relationship.  

President Obama is expected to raise the issue when he meets with President Hu this week.  And the issue is likely to come up when the two hold a joint press conference Wednesday.

China has reacted strongly to the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo and accused the United States and international community of meddling in its internal affairs.

During the summit, Mr. Obama and Mr. Hu are expected to announce the resumption of the U.S.-China "human-rights dialogue," which was suspended last year.  The meeting gives U.S. officials an opportunity to raise concerns with the Chinese government over specific political prisoners and other issues.

But such meetings have been sporadic at best, and have been criticized by rights activists as being fairly empty exercises.  Before last year's dialogue was held in May, the previous one was in May of 2008.  Before that, discussions had not taken place since 2002.

Mr. Hu arrives in Washington late Tuesday and departs Thursday.  His meetings with President Obama, government officials, and business executives on Wednesday will conclude with a formal state dinner.  The last White House state dinner for China was held 13 years ago.

After his stop in Washington, the focus on business will continue when Mr. Hu travels to Chicago.  On Thursday, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley will host a large, corporate-sponsored dinner for Mr. Hu.

Mr. Hu will also visit a Chinese auto parts company, a wind energy company, and Chinese language school in Chicago before returning to China on Friday.

You May Like

Conflicts Engulf Christians in Mideast

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Chinese Americans: Don’t Call Us 'Model Minority'

Label points to collective achievement, but some say it triggers resentment, unrealistic expectations More

Iran Bolsters Phone, Internet Surveillance

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Polish Ghetto

When the Nazi army moved into the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid