BEIJING — Chinese President Hu Jintao, who travels to Washington on Tuesday for a state visit after a year marked by disputes and tension with the United States, said the two countries could mutually benefit by finding "common ground" on issues from fighting terrorism and nuclear proliferation to cooperating on clean energy and infrastructure development.
"There is no denying that there are some differences and sensitive issues between us," Hu said in written answers to questions from the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. "We both stand to gain from a sound China-U.S. relationship, and lose from confrontation."
To enhance what he called "practical cooperation" on a wide range of issues, Hu urged an increase in dialogues and exchanges and more "mutual trust." He said, "We should abandon the zero-sum Cold War mentality" and, in what seemed like an implicit rejection of U.S. criticisms of China's internal affairs, said the two should "respect each other's choice of development path."
Hu took aim at the international currency system, now dominated by the dollar, calling it a "product of the past." China has moved to make its currency, the yuan, also known as the renminbi, convertible on international markets. Hu pointed to Chinese efforts to boost its use in trade and investment. But he cautioned against any suggestion that the yuan might soon become a new reserve currency.
Hu, the secretary general of the Chinese Communist Party since 2002 and China's president since 2003, rarely speaks in interviews or gives news conferences. His last extensive comments to American media outlets came in 2008, in a joint meeting around the time of the Beijing Olympics. His last interview with Western media was in written format in November to a French and a Portuguese newspaper.
Under the ground rules, Hu decided which questions to answer from lists submitted separately by the Post and the Journal.
Hu made an official visit to the White House in 2006, but President George W. Bush denied him a full state visit, offering only a lunch. But he will receive a state banquet at the White House on Wednesday.
The Obama administration plans to use the summit to refocus attention on China's record on human rights and political freedoms.
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.