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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More