President Bush welcomed Chinese President Hu Jintao to the White House Thursday. The visit drew large demonstrations protesting China's human rights record.
President Bush and President Hu walked across the White House lawn in brilliant sunlight, reviewing U.S. troops as part of an elaborate welcome for the Chinese leader in his first official visit to Washington.
Trade is at the top of their agenda as the two countries share $285 billion worth of commerce each year. But that relationship is far from balanced with a $202 billion surplus in favor of China.
While he says both nations are committed to expanding trade, President Bush says it must be better balanced.
"Our trade relationship can become even stronger as China adopts policies that allow U.S. companies to compete in China with the same freedom that Chinese companies are able to compete here in the United States," said Mr. Bush.
President Bush says freer trade is consistent with China being a responsible member of the international economic system and a leader in world trade.
Speaking through a translator, President Hu said he will continue to reform China's exchange rate, improve market access, increase imports, and strengthen intellectual property rights.
"We will continue to pursue the strategy of boosting domestic demand and ensure fast and balanced economic and social development in China," said President Hu. "This will create more opportunities for China/U.S. economic cooperation and trade."
President Hu said he is ready to enhance dialogue based on mutual respect and equality to promote what he called the world's cause of human rights.
China's human rights record is a source of friction between the countries with President Bush urging greater individual freedoms. As relations between the countries grow, Mr. Bush says their leaders can be candid about their disagreements, and he will continue to press the issue of human rights.
President Hu's comments on the South Lawn were interrupted briefly by a protester who shouted that President Hu's days are numbered and demanding that President Bush stop the Chinese leader from prosecuting members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement.
President Bush was visibly annoyed by the heckler and told President Hu to go on with his remarks. The protester was removed.
Outside the White House, those protests continued. Falun Gong member Chi Hwan said she wants President Bush to confront the Chinese leader face to face.