M A I N   N E W S

Special to the tribune
Much to be done for human rights: China
Ashish Kumar Sen in
Washington DC 

The Chinese President Hu Jintao on Wednesday acknowledged that “a lot still needs to be done in China, in terms of human rights.” Hu was speaking at the White House following a meeting with US President Barack Obama. The two leaders covered a range of issues, including irritants in the relationship such as human rights and China’s undervalued currency. Later in the day, Hu was feted at a state dinner at the White House at which former presidents Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton rubbed shoulders with action star Jackie Chan and designer Vera Wang.

Speaking at a rare press conference with reporters at the White House, Hu said that while there are disagreements between China and the US on the issue of human rights, “China is willing to engage in dialogue and exchanges with the United States on the basis of mutual respect and the principle of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.” “In this way, we’ll be able to further increase our mutual understanding, reduce our disagreements, and expand our common ground,” he added.

Earlier in the press conference, Hu did not respond to a question about human rights. He later said he did not hear the question due to “technical translation and interpretation problem.” A stone’s throw from the White House, a group of protesters that waved Tibetan flags and shouted slogans reminding those within earshot of ongoing human rights abuses in Tibet had no problem getting themselves heard. The US recognises Tibet as being part of China. Obama said the US continues to support further dialogue between the Chinese government 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.”

Obama also pressed for further adjustment in the exchange rate. “We’ll continue to look for the value of China’s currency to be increasingly driven by the market, which will help ensure that no nation has an undue economic advantage,” he said.

Hu and Obama described their discussions as candid.

“Occasionally, they are a source of tension between our two governments,” Obama said, adding, “we can engage and discuss these issues in a frank and candid way, focus on those areas where we agree, while acknowledging there are going to be areas where we disagree.”

Obama said a “positive, constructive, cooperative” US-China relationship is good for the US, which exports more than $100 billion a year in goods and services to China. For its part, China supports more than half a million American jobs.

Hu’s visit provided much welcome news for US businesses. China agreed to buy 200 Boeing airplanes valued at $19 billion and indicated that its companies signed 70 contracts for $25 billion in US 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 US export content, according to the White House.

Hu made a commitment that US firms would not be discriminated against and also promised to take new steps to combat the theft of intellectual property.

Obama said he believes that China’s peaceful rise is good for the world and it is good for America. “We also think that China’s rise offers enormous economic opportunity. We want to sell you all kinds of stuff,” the US president said, eliciting laughter.

Address concerns of Tibetans: Obama
Obama urged Hu to have dialogue with representatives of the Tibetan spiritual leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama to address concerns of the people of Tibet. The Tibet issue along with that of the human rights was candidly raised by Obama and his team during talks with the Chinese delegation led by Hu.





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