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Obama Hosts Chinese Vice President Xi

February 14, 2012

VOA News

President Barack Obama has assured Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping that the U.S. welcomes China's rise in the world, but said all countries must follow the same rules on the economy and human rights.

Mr. Obama is meeting Xi in the Oval Office, where the two men were discussing strengthening cooperation. A cooperative relationship between the two powers based on mutual respect is in the interests of the world, the U.S. president said.

The visit allows President Obama the opportunity to raise familiar issues of concern with China, including human rights, unrest in Tibet and the U.S.-China trade imbalance.

President Obama said China's extraordinary development over the last two decades has brought it expanding power and prosperity, but also "increased responsibilities."

"We want to work with China to make sure that everybody is working by the same rules of the road when it comes to the world economic system," he said. "And that includes ensuring that there is a balanced trade flow between not only the United States and China, but around the world. It also means that on critical issues like human rights, we will continue to emphasize what we believe is the importance of recognizing the aspirations and rights of all people."

Mr. Obama also said the United States has pursued managing areas of tension in a "constructive" way, including working together on the world economic crisis and other key issues, such as Iran.

Meeting with Xi at the White House before the talks at the Oval Office, Vice President Joe Biden called for working past the nations' differences.

"We are not always going to see eye to eye, we are not always going to see things exactly the same, but we have important, very important economic and political concerns that warrant we work together," Mr. Biden said.

Xi's visit is attracting close attention, as he is expected to become China's Communist Party leader later this year and president in 2013. Xi will spend much of his time with Biden, who visited China as Xi's guest in August.

Appearing with Biden, Xi said he hopes to engage with a broad cross section of American society during his trip and deepen the nations' friendship. He said he looks forward to an in-depth and candid exchange of views.

Tibetan protesters have been demonstrating in Washington since Xi's arrival Monday, chanting slogans against China and holding pictures of Tibetans who recently self-immolated in protest of Chinese rule. Xi's visit will also serve as an opportunity for Washington to convince Beijing that the "pivot" in U.S. military power towards Asia is not meant to contain China's rise.

After lunch hosted by Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Department, Xi is scheduled to visit with military officials at the Pentagon and then hold talks with American and Chinese business leaders.

In an interview published Monday in The Washington Post, Xi warned against a U.S. military build-up in Asia, even while maintaining that there is "ample" room in the Pacific region for both countries.

After his arrival, he said the United States should take "concrete measures to promote mutual trust" between the two countries.

Xi is due to travel Wednesday to the midwestern state of Iowa and then to California.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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