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Obama, Hu open talks as world watches

President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao walk past a guard of honor during a welcome ceremony in Beijing.

Associated Press

President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao walk past a guard of honor during a welcome ceremony in Beijing.

BEIJING — President Barack Obama says that China's partnership has helped the United States pull out of the worst recession in a generation.

Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao appeared together and spoke to reporters after two meetings today. Obama says a revised economic approach will help increase U.S. exports and create jobs while helping bring about higher living standards in China.

Obama and Hu sent cooperative signals before they began closed-door meetings. The pair sought to strike a balance between trading partners and competitors during Obama's first trip to China amid a tour of Asia.

"We believe strong dialogue is important not only for the U.S and China, but for the rest of the world," Obama said, flanked by his national security team as the session began with great ceremony.

Hu reciprocated with kind words in public: "I look forward to having an in-depth relationship."

After those brief comments to reporters, the two presidents opened more than two hours of private talks at the Great Hall of the People, located on the edge of Tiananmen Square.

The buildup to the meetings in China brought a cautious balancing from the first-term U.S. leader.

A day before, Obama prodded China about Internet controls and free speech during a forum with students in Shanghai. His message was not widely heard in the country; his words were drastically limited online and shown on just one regional television channel.

He also suggested that China, now a giant in economic impact as well as territory, must take a bigger role on the world stage — part of "burden of leadership" it shares with the United States.

"I will tell you, other countries around the world will be waiting for us," Obama said in an American-style town-hall discussion with Chinese university students in Shanghai, where he spent a day before flying to China's capital for a state visit with President Hu.

Eager to achieve a successful summit, the two leaders were likely to avoid public spats on economic issues. With America's budget deficit soaring to a yearly record of $1.42 trillion, China is the No. 1 lender to Washington and has expressed concern that the falling price of the dollar threatens the value of its U.S. holdings.

Obama's town hall meeting in Shanghai on Monday showed how difficult it is for the governments to work together. The U.S. initially requested a larger venue and a live broadcast on a major network. In the end, Chinese officials put the event on the eastern fringes of the city. Only local Shanghai TV carried it live, though it was streamed on two popular Internet portals and on the White House's Web site, which is not censored.

In brief remarks before the initial talks, Hu noted Obama's Shanghai meeting with students, calling the session "quite lively."

Obama smiled broadly throughout the welcoming remarks late Monday, then told Hu that "the world recognizes the importance of the U.S.-Chinese relationship" in tackling global problems.

The two met again — more formally — today.

Obama, Hu open talks as world watches 11/16/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 12:25am]
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