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

Photogallery Strong Words Start, May End, S. African Xenophobic Attacks

President Jacob Zuma publicly condemned rise in attacks on foreign nationals but critics say leadership has been less than welcoming to foreign residents More

Video Family Waits to Hear Charges Against Reporter Jailed in Iran

Reports in Iran say Jason Rezaian has been charged with espionage, but brother tells VOA indictment has not been made public More

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Action to Stabilize Libya

Amnesty International says multinational concerted humanitarian effort must be enacted to address crisis; decrepit boats continue to bring thousands of new arrivals daily 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.
Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?i
X
Steve Sandford
April 17, 2015 12:50 AM
Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Are Energy Needs Putting Thailand's Natural Beauty at Risk?

Thailand's appetite for more electricity has led to the construction of new dams along the Mekong River to the north and new coal plants near the country's famous beaches in the south. A proposed coal plant in a so-called "green zone" has touched off a debate. VOA's Steve Sandford reports.
Video

Video Overwhelmed by Migrants, Italy Mulls Military Action to Stabilize Libya

Thousands more migrants have arrived on the southern shores of Italy from North Africa in the past two days. Authorities say they expect the total number of arrivals this year to far exceed previous levels, and the government has said military action in Libya might be necessary to stem the flow. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Putin Accuses Kyiv of ‘Cutting Off’ Eastern Ukraine

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in his annual televised call-in program, again denied there were any Russian troops fighting in Ukraine. He also said the West was trying to ‘contain’ Russia with sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports on reactions to the president’s four-hour TV appearance.
Video

Video Eye Contact Secures Dog's Place in Human Heart

Dogs serve in the military, work with police and assist the disabled, and have been by our side for thousands of years serving as companions and loyal friends. We love them. They love us in return. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports on a new study that looks at the bio-chemical bond that cements that human-canine connection.
Video

Video Ukrainian Volunteers Search for Bodies of Missing Soldiers

As the cease-fire becomes more fragile in eastern Ukraine, a team of volunteer body collectors travels to the small village of Savur Mohyla in the what pro-Russian separatists call the Donetsk Peoples Republic - to retrieve bodies of fallen Ukrainian servicemen from rebel-held territories. Adam Bailes traveled with the team and has this report.
Video

Video Xenophobic Violence Sweeps South Africa

South Africa, long a haven for African immigrants, has been experiencing the worst xenophobic violence in years, with at least five people killed and hundreds displaced in recent weeks. From Johannesburg, VOA’s Anita Powell brings us this report.
Video

Video Sierra Leone President Koroma Bemoans Ebola Impact on Economy

In an interview with VOA's Shaka Ssali on Wednesday, President Ernest Koroma said the outbreak undermined his government’s efforts to boost and restructure the economy after years of civil war.
Video

Video Protester Lands Gyrocopter on Capitol Lawn

A 61-year-old mailman from Florida landed a small aircraft on the Capitol lawn in Washington to bring attention to campaign finance reform and what he says is government corruption. Wednesday's incident was one in a string of security breaches on U.S. government property. Zlatica Hoke reports the gyrocopter landing violated a no-fly zone.
Video

Video Apollo 13, NASA's 'Successful Failure,' Remembered

The Apollo 13 mission in 1970 was supposed to be NASA's third manned trip to the moon, but it became much more. On the flight's 45th anniversary, astronauts and flight directors gathered at Chicago's Adler Planetarium to talk about how the aborted mission changed manned spaceflight and continues to influence space exploration today. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video Badly Burned Ukrainian Boy Bravely Fights Back

A 9-year-old Ukrainian boy has returned to his native country after intensive treatment in the United States for life-threatening burns. Volodia Bubela, burned in a house fire almost a year ago, battled back at a Boston hospital, impressing doctors with his bravery. Faith Lapidus narrates this report from VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko.
Video

Video US Maternity Leave Benefits Much Less Than Many Countries

It was almost 20 years ago that representatives of 189 countries met at a UN conference in Beijing and adopted a plan of action to achieve gender equality around the world. Now, two decades later, the University of California Los Angeles World Policy Analysis Center has issued a report examining what the Beijing Platform for Action has achieved. From Los Angeles, Elizabeth Lee has more.
Video

Video Endangered Hawaiian Birds Get Second Chance

Of the world's nearly 9,900 bird species, 13 percent are threatened with extinction, according to BirdLife International. Among them are two Hawaiian honeycreepers - tiny birds that live in the forest canopy, and, as the name implies, survive on nectar from tropical flowers. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo report they have managed to hatch half a dozen of their chicks in captivity, raising hopes that the birds will flutter back from the brink of extinction. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Exhibit Brings Renaissance Master Out of the Shadows

The National Gallery of Art in Washington has raised the curtain on one of the most intriguing painters of the High Renaissance. Mostly ignored after his death in the early 1500s, Italian master Piero di Cosimo is now claiming his place alongside the best-known artists of the period. VOA’s Ardita Dunellari reports.
Video

Video Sidemen to Famous Blues Artists Record Their Own CD

Legendary blues singer BB King was briefly hospitalized last week and the 87-year-old “King of the Blues” may not be touring much anymore. But some of the musicians who have played with him and other blues legends have now released their own CD in an attempt to pass the torch to younger fans... and put their own talents out front as well. VOA’s Greg Flakus has followed this project over the past year and filed this report from Houston.
Video

Video Iran-Saudi Rivalry Is Stoking Conflict in Yemen

Iran has proposed a peace plan to end the conflict in Yemen, but the idea has received little support from regional rivals like Saudi Arabia. They accuse Tehran of backing the Houthi rebels, who have forced Yemen’s president to flee to Riyadh, and have taken over swaths of Yemen. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA, analysts say the conflict is being fueled by the Sunni-Shia rivalry between the two regional powers.

VOA Blogs