China leader offers hand, but warns US

January 21, 2011 12:00 am

, WASHINGTON, Jan 21 – Chinese President Hu Jintao, unbowed by pressure on a state visit, warned the United States not to press on Taiwan and Tibet as he insisted the rising Asian power sought cooperation.

A day after a gala dinner at the White House, Hu had a frostier reception as he visited Capitol Hill, where top US lawmakers pressed him on economic and human rights concerns, including the jailing of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo.

Hu afterward delivered a speech to US business and political leaders in which he urged "mutual respect" and said: "The China-US relationship is not one in which one side\’s gain means the other one\’s loss."

"It is fair to say our two countries have never enjoyed such broad common interests and shouldered such important common responsibilities as we do today," he said.

But speaking of Taiwan and Tibet, Hu said: "A review of the history of our relations tells us that US-China relations will enjoy smooth and steady growth when the two countries handle well issues involving each other\’s major interests."

"Otherwise our relations will suffer constant trouble or even tension," he warned.

Beijing considers Taiwan, a self-governing island founded by China\’s defeated nationalists, and Tibet, a largely Buddhist territory where China sent troops in 1950, to be integral parts of the country.

President Barack Obama, at a joint news conference with Hu on Wednesday, reaffirmed the US position that Taiwan and Tibet are part of China.

But he also urged China to engage with Tibet\’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, who is widely popular in the United States, and recommitted the United States to helping Taiwan defend itself against China\’s growing military.

The United States and its allies, particularly Japan, have repeatedly voiced concern about China\’s double-digit growth in defense spending. China tested a stealth fighter this month just as US Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited the country.

Hu dismissed worries, saying: "We do not engage in arms races or pose a military threat to any country. China will never seek hegemony or pursue an expansionist policy."

Much of Hu\’s speech was conciliatory. He urged cooperation between the world\’s largest developed and developing nations on issues from reviving the moribund Doha trade liberalization talks to fighting climate change.

He also said China sought to work with the United States around Asia, despite unease in Japan and Southeast Asian nations about Chinese assertiveness in recent months over myriad territorial disputes.

"We should stay committed to promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region, engage in open and inclusive regional cooperation and turn the Asia-Pacific into an important region where China and the United States work closely together on the basis of mutual respect," Hu said.

Hu earlier met with Obama\’s nemesis John Boehner, the newly installed House speaker. Boehner said he had "a good meeting" with Hu that focused heavily on "our economic relationship."

Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the Republican who heads the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said she handed Hu a detailed letter on rights concerns including China\’s treatment of the Ticapitalfmnewn and Uighur minorities and the Falungong spiritual movement.

"Out of all of the issues I raised, the only one which received a response from Mr Hu was my statement urging the end of China\’s forced abortion policy. I was astonished when he insisted that such a policy does not exist," she said.

China restricts most couples from bearing more than one child.

Ros-Lehtinen urged a more robust US policy toward Beijing, saying: "The US and China do not share values and principles, as some have claimed in recent days."

But John Kerry, the Obama ally who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said after his own meeting with Hu that the two nations were not inevitably on a "collision course."

"It\’s critical that leaders in both countries don\’t allow mutual suspicions to degenerate into fear-mongering and demagoguery," Kerry said.

On Friday, Hu will visit Chicago, Obama\’s hometown, where he is expected to showcase a Chinese factory to demonstrate his country is creating jobs in the United States. Beijing and Washington signed $45 billion in trade deals during Hu\’s trip.

Mindful of China\’s image, China has also broadcast commercials on major US television networks aiming to show China as a nation rich in culture and advanced technology.

Busloads of Chinese students waved flags to cheer on Hu as he delivered the speech at a heavily guarded hotel. But protesters were also out in force, with hundreds waving Ticapitalfmnewn flags and chanting for Hu to "free Tibet."


Latest Articles

Most Viewed