Obama, Hu Discuss Economy, Human Rights Issues (Updated)

The Washington Post reports on the state visit to Washington by President Hu Jintao:

While both presidents exchanged warm words at Obama’s welcoming ceremony, from the outset their different visions were clear. Obama used his remarks to remind Hu of the importance of human rights.

“Societies are more harmonious, nations are more successful, and the world is more just, when the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld, including the universal rights of every human being,” Obama said.

And Hu gave no quarter, instructing Obama that “our cooperation as partners should be based on mutual respect.”

“China and the United States,” Hu said through an interpreter, “should respect each other’s choice of development path and each other’s core interests.”

And NPR reports from their joint press conference:

“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,” [Obama] said.

Asked by a Chinese reporter how the U.S. could continue to view China’s rise in a benign light, Obama said he “absolutely” believed that “China’s peaceful rise is good for the world, and it’s good for America.”

While Hu alluded briefly to the human rights issue in his opening statement at the news conference, he did not directly address a question on the subject later. When pressed, Hu blamed a translation problem for not responding.

The Wall Street Journal has posted the full transcript of the Obama, Hu News Conference. See also a New York Times report.

Update: The Wall Street Journal has a transcript of the toasts at tonight’s state dinner, and the Huffington Post has photos of the dinner’s all-star line-up.

Also, AFP reports that one success of Hu’s trip so far is the extension of the lease of the two giant pandas now living at the National Zoo:

“Under a new agreement, our National Zoo will continue to dazzle children and visitors with the beloved giant pandas,” President Barack Obama told guests at a gala state dinner honoring Hu at the White House.

The deal to be inked Thursday at the National Zoo will allow giant pandas Mei Xiang and Tian Tian, who were supposed to go back to China at the end of last year, to stay in the US capital until 2015, Zang Chunlin, secretary general of the China Wildlife Conservation Association (CWCA) said.

“Taking full consideration of the fondness of the American people towards the giant panda, China reached agreement with the US side on the extension of the agreement on the giant pandas,” Zang said through an interpreter.

And the New York Times reports that the state visit marks a turning point in U.S.-China relations.

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