Hu Jintao arrives in US for state visit
The US Vice President Joe Biden was himself present at the Andrews Air Force Base to greet the Chinese President last evening, reflecting the high priority the Obama Administration attaches to its relationship with China.
"I look forward to having in-depth discussions with President (Barack) Obama on China-US relations and major international and regional issues of shared interest," Hu said in a statement after his arrival.
The Chinese leader said the purpose of his visit is to enhance mutual trust, promote friendship, deepen cooperation and move forward the positive, cooperative and comprehensive Sino-US relationship for the 21st century.
While, the official welcome ceremony is scheduled at the White House this morning, within hours of his arrival, the Chinese President with a small group of close aides drove down to the White House for a private dinner hosted by the US President Barack Obama.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon were among the few attending the private dinner hosted by Obama to which officials said it would set the tone for today`s formal meeting at the Oval Office and the one of the Cabinet-level meeting.
Today, Obama will host Hu to the state dinner at the White House — the first for a Chinese leader in 13 years.
This would be Obama`s third state dinner. The first one was that of the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on November 24, 2009.
Hours before his arrival, the White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs hoped that the state visit of the Chinese President would advance the relationship between the two countries, which the Obama Administration has termed as one of the most critical bilateral ties of the 21st century.
Iran, North Korea, economic relations in particular the alleged currency manipulation by China and human right situation are some of the issues that are expected to dominate the talks for next two days, after which Hu travels to Chicago.
"We have a relationship that yields substantial benefits. At the same time, we have some direct and difficult challenges. Most of those will be discussed tomorrow," Gibbs said.
However, some of the contentious issues like human rights and Tibet are expected to come only during the talks at the Oval office or the Cabinet level meeting at the White House and not to other meetings like the State Dinner, Gibbs said.
At the same time groups of Senators came out in open against the alleged Chinese manipulation of its currency, human rights violations and its support to regimes like that of North Korea and Burma.
Senators Charles Schumer, Debbie Stabenow and Bob Casey announced their decision to introduce a legislation that "vigorously addresses" such alleged currency misalignments that unfairly and negatively impact US trade.
If passed, the legislation would provide less flexibility to the Treasury Department when it comes to citing countries for currency manipulation, they said. The proposed legislation will also impose stiff new penalties on designated countries, including duties on the countries` exports and a ban on any companies from those countries receiving US government contracts.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand dispatched a letter to Obama asking him to press Hu on issues related to cyber security and rare earth elements (REE).
"Cyber security and REEs greatly affect both the national and economic security of the United States, and I continue to be concerned about China`s policies regarding these two strategic interests," she stated in her letter.