President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao of China begin their working dinner in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, Jan. 18, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
AAP staff report
Washington, D.C. (January 19, 2011) – China President Hu Jintao and a delegation of more than one hundred officials were given official state visit status Wednesday, as President Barack and Michelle Obama, welcomed them to Washington. President Hu’s spouse, Liu Yongqing, did not accompany him on this trip reportedly due to health problems.
The eighth meeting between the two leaders since Obama took office two years ago. It has been five years since Hu has been to the White House and 13 years since a Chinese president has attended a state dinner here.
Hu’s last visit was April 20, 2006 where he received a South Lawn Arrival Ceremony. It has been postponed from 2005 because of Hurricane Katrina. Hu had lunch with President Bush rather than a state dinner.
Hu’s 2006 visit was marred by the unexpected heckling by Wen Yi Wang, an adherent of the Falun Gong religious sect, who had used press credentials to gain access to the White House. The sect is banned in China.
The two leaders agreed to move ahead with a formal dialogue on human rights and to new exchanges to advance the rule of law. The U.S. will recognize that Tibet is part of the People’s Republic of China, and will continue to support dialogue between China and the representatives of the Dalai Lama to resolve concerns and differences, including the preservation of the religious and cultural identity of the Tibetan people.
“I reaffirmed America’s fundamental commitment to the universal rights of all people,” said Obama. “That includes basic human rights like freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association and demonstration, and of religion – rights that are recognized in the Chinese constitution.
“As I’ve said before, the United States speaks up for these freedoms and the dignity of every human being, not only because it’s part of who we are as Americans, but we do so because we believe that by upholding these universal rights, all nations, including China, will ultimately be more prosperous and successful.”
Though this meeting produced a variety of agreements, and while the two addressed human rights issues as a priority, there were still thousands of protesters in the streets to call attention to everything from the Tibet occupation and destruction of natural resources and cultural identity, to the Falun Dafa, the Uighurs and supporters of jailed Nobel Peace Prize recipient Liu Xiaobo.
“China is always committed to the protection and promotion of human rights,” Hu said in a press conference. “And in the course of human rights, China has also made enormous progress, recognized widely in the world.
Hu said China recognizes and respects the universality of human rights, and does believe that while the varied and national circumstances the country needs to taken into account, that the nation is still developing and in crucial stage of reform with a huge population.
Hu said China would continue efforts to improve the lives of the Chinese people, and promote democracy and the rule of law. At the same time, he said they are willing to have exchanges and dialogue with other countries in terms of human rights.
“In this context, China still faces many challenges in economic and social development,” he added. “And a lot still needs to be done in China, in terms of human rights.”
The list of agreements signed by the two leaders was labeled as “U.S. & China: Building a Positive, Cooperative, and Comprehensive Relationship,” and meant to highlight specific means to cooperate on a variety of global and bilateral challenges that came from the six meetings.
“The positive, constructive, cooperative U.S.-China relationship is good for the United States,” said Obama. “We just had a very good meeting with the business leaders from both our countries.”
President Hu said the discussion were held in a “candid, pragmatic and constructive atmosphere.”
“The Chinese side appreciates President Obama’s commitment to a positive and constructive China policy, and to stable and growing China-U.S. relations since he took office,” said Hu, adding that the two nations share expanding common interests and shoulder increasing common responsibilities and that cooperation has a great significance for the world.
“The two sides should firmly adhere to the right direction of our relationship; respect each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and development interests; promote the long-term sound and steady growth of China-U.S. relations; and make even greater contributions to maintaining and promoting world peace and development.”
Hu said that China is firmly committed to the path of peaceful development and a win-win strategy of opening up. He said China is a friend and partner of all countries, and its development is an opportunity for the world.
Secretary of Energy Steven Chu and Chairman Chen Qiufa of the China Atomic Energy Authority signed a government-to-government agreement establishing a Center of Excellence in China to promote effective nuclear security and safeguards.
In the spirit of implementing the provisions of the Cancun agreements that build on the Copenhagen Accord; Obama and Hu welcomed enhanced cooperation on clean energy and announced joint work plans for the newly established research consortia under the U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center. The center will build efficiency, clean coal, and clean vehicles; signed an agreement with the Chinese Academy of Sciences to promote cooperation in a range of energy, biological, and environmental sciences; started negotiations on a U.S.-China Eco-City Initiative to integrate energy efficiency and renewable energy into city design and operation in our two countries.
The two signed a statement of intent to share data on electric vehicle demonstrations in Los Angeles and Shanghai; and announced two new EcoPartnerships on energy efficiency and clean electricity.
The two extended the U.S.-China Agreement on Cooperation in Science and Technology, one of the longest standing agreements between our two countries. Since it was first signed in 1979, the agreement has fostered exchanges to advance cooperative research in a diverse array of fields, including fisheries, earth and atmospheric sciences, basic research in physics and chemistry, a variety of energy-related areas, agriculture, civil industrial technology, geology, health, and disaster research.
The First Lady highlighted several new efforts launched under the 100,000 Strong Initiative, including the D.C. Center for Global Education and Leadership that will create up to 1,000 study abroad opportunities over the next four years in support of the President’s Initiative for students, teachers, and education policymakers from Washington, D.C. public and public charter schools, an underserved community.
Mrs. Obama was joined by Madame Chen Naiqing, the wife of China’s ambassador to the U.S., Zhang Yesui, and Mary Kaye Huntsman, wife of U.S. ambassador to China Jon Huntsman.
“Studying in countries like China isn’t only about your prospects in the global marketplace,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “It’s not just about whether you can compete with your peers in other countries to make America stronger. It’s also about whether you can come together, and work together with them to make our world stronger. It’s about the friendships you make, the bonds of trust you establish, and the image of America that you project to the rest of the world.”
“That’s why it is so important for more of our young people to live and study in each other’s countries – because that’s how you develop that habit of cooperation,” she added. “By immersing yourself in someone else’s culture, by sharing your stories and letting them share theirs, by taking the time to get past the stereotypes and misperceptions that too often divide us.”
To promote collaboration between our two countries on health issues, Hu and Obama announced their intention to establish a public private partnership on healthcare. Working collaboratively with the private sector, the Partnership will support jointly agreed upon activities, including a Healthcare Professional Personnel Exchange Program, studies, consultancies, training, pilot projects, and related project development.
To build dialogue and cooperation at the subnational level, the U.S. and China signed a Memorandum of Understanding concerning the establishment of a U.S.-China Governors Forum. Convened by the National Governors Association and the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, the forum will serve as a platform to promote peer-to-peer exchanges between U.S. Governors and Chinese provincial Party Secretaries and Governors on topics of mutual concern such as trade and investment, energy and the environment, tourism, and education.
As part of a shared commitment to preventing nuclear smuggling, Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman and Vice Minister Sun Yibiao of the General Administration of China Customs will sign a memorandum of understanding that paves the way for the establishment of a radiation detection training center in Qinhuangdao, China. Under the agreement, the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration will provide radiation detection equipment and support the development of training materials for use at the Qinhuangdao Training Center.
The radiation detection training facility at the Qinhuangdao Training Center will be the first of its kind in the region.
The U.S. and China intend to work together to construct a Classical Chinese Garden on the grounds of the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C. The garden will be a venue for cultural events to enhance the traditional friendship between our two peoples.
Obama stated that China is a key market for U.S. exports that are generating jobs across the country for large, small and medium-sized enterprises. In preparation for the China visit, the U.S. government approved large purchases including 200 Boeing airplanes valued at $19 billion.
In addition, the Chinese government has indicated that its companies signed 70 contracts for $25 billion in U.S. exports from 12 states. These included sectors ranging from auto parts to agriculture, machinery to chemicals.
In addition, 11 investment contracts were signed worth $3.24 billion. Additional transactions were announced or showcased, exceeding $12 billion in total value with approximately $986.8 million in U.S. export content.
These deals worth over $45 billion in increased exports will help support an estimated 235,000 jobs in the United States. These cross-border collaborations, both public and private, underpin the expanding U.S.-China commercial partnership, contributing to economic growth and development in both countries.
A number of these transactions highlight the increased collaboration in such areas as clean energy and green technologies.