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US, China Vow Increased Cooperation

VOA News 19 January 2011

U.S. President Barack Obama and his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, vowed to increase cooperation between their two nations Wednesday, while acknowledging differences still persist.

The leaders spoke at a formal ceremony welcoming President Hu to the White House. Shortly after the ceremony, the Obama administration announced a package of export deals to China worth $45 billion, including a $19 billion purchase of 200 Boeing aircraft.

While welcoming Mr. Hu, President Obama said both nations have an enormous stake in each other's success and will be more prosperous and secure when working together. He also pressed the need to uphold human rights. China's human rights record has been a point of contention with the U.S.

Mr. Hu said the U.S. and China share common interests and responsibilities and should seek common ground, but stressed that their cooperation should be based on mutual respect for each other's development paths and core interests.

The relationship between the U.S. and China has been plagued by differences on issues including human rights, North Korea and the massive U.S. trade deficit with China. Wednesday's events are marked by all the pomp and ceremony of a formal state visit and will conclude with a black tie dinner.

In between, the two leaders and their most senior officials are expected to spend hours grappling with some of the toughest problems confronting the world's two largest economic powers.

U.S. officials have said Mr. Obama will not shy away from challenging Mr. Hu on the most sensitive issues, including human rights, the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, and rising U.S. anger over the value of China's currency, the yuan.

Lawmakers from both major U.S. parties are seeking to punish China for what they consider currency manipulation designed to give Chinese-made goods a price advantage in foreign markets. China's weak currency makes it easy to sell Chinese goods in the U.S. and difficult for the U.S. to sell its products in China, contributing to the trade deficit.

But Mr. Hu said in an interview this week with U.S. newspapers that he sees no need for a change in China's currency policies.

China's official Xinhua news agency said Wednesday the leaders are also expected to announce new cooperation projects dealing with trade and the economy, energy, environmental protection, infrastructure development, people-to-people exchanges, and science and technology.

On Thursday, Mr. Hu will meet with leaders of the U.S. Congress and deliver a major address to the U.S.-China Business Council before traveling to Chicago, America's third largest city. There, he will highlight cultural contacts between the countries and attend a contract-signing ceremony.

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