Posted by: changholt | January 15, 2011

Five items on the wish list for Hu and Obama

Chinese President Hu Jintao travels to Washington for meetings with President Barack Obama and a state visit on January 19. 

Here are five items on the wish lists that the leaders of the world’s largest economies — who are competitors but also key partners — will bring to their summit.




Currency and Trade: Obama will push Hu to let China’s yuan currency appreciate. Washington says Beijing keeps the currency too low, giving it an unfair advantage in international trade, and Obama has repeatedly warned China against relying too much on selling its products abroad for growth.


Nuclear diplomacy: Obama is expected to ask Hu for more help persuading Pyongyang to abandon nuclear weapons and avoid potentially destabilizing actions like the North’s bombarding of a South Korean island and sinking of a navy ship last year.


He also wants Beijing’s continued help in pushing Tehran on its nuclear program. Washington wants tougher sanctions on Iran to convince the Islamic republic’s leaders to curb their nuclear ambitions.


Showing strength: The U.S. president wants to boost perceptions that he is a strong leader after his Democrats lost heavily to Republicans in the November 2010 congressional elections and after he was criticized for seeming too weak during his November 2009 visit to China.


Military: He is likely to seek reassurances from Hu about China’s long-term military ambitions — some U.S. officials are concerned about Chinese spending on its military as its economy booms — and what they see as Chinese aggression in the region and secrecy about its plans.


Ceremony: The White House wants a visit with no embarrassing glitches, and highlighted by a glittering state dinner and other ceremonial occasions. Security will also be extra-tight, to avoid anything like the 2006 protest or the party-crashers who made their way into Obama’s state dinner for India’s leader in 2009.




Currency and trade: The Chinese president wants to assurances for his workers and export industries that American markets will remain open to Chinese goods.


Nuclear diplomacy: Hu, who makes stability on the Korean peninsula a priority, is likely to push Obama to return to negotiations with North Korea and soften the U.S. stance that it will not talk again without North Korean concessions.


Legacy: For Hu, the trip is largely about his legacy — Vice President Xi Jinping is set to succeed him as China’s president after late 2012. While sending a message of U.S.-Chinese cooperation, he wants to show a domestic audience that he is able to stand up to Washington and not make too many concessions.


Military: China wants to alleviate perceptions it believes are growing in the United States and elsewhere in Asia that China is a threat. It also may want reassurances on the perennial sticking points of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, which Beijing considers a renegade province, and U.S. military operations near China’s shores.

Ceremony: China wants a smooth summit, with all the trappings of a formal state visit and no embarrassing incidents. Hu’s last visit to Washington, in 2006, was marred by glitches, most notably an incident in which a shouting protester from the Falun Gong spiritual movement interrupted Hu’s opening remarks on the White House lawn

via Factbox: Five items on the wish list for Hu and Obama | Reuters.

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