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Hu Travels to Washington Seeking Improved Relations

  • VOA News

American and Chinese flags fly along Pennsylvania Avenue in front of the White House in Washington, Monday, Jan. 17, 2011. On Wednesday, Chinese President Hu Jintao arrives for a state visit. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Chinese President Hu Jintao is on his way to the United States for a state visit aimed at easing tensions between the two biggest economic powers.

Mr. Hu is scheduled to arrive in time for a small private dinner at the White House Tuesday evening before launching into full-scale talks with U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday. A black-tie state dinner - the highest honor afforded to a visiting dignitary - is set for that evening. Mr. Hu will also visit America's third-largest city, Chicago, to meet with businessmen.

China has already announced $600 million in trade deals with American companies this week, and others are possible. But with China's annual surplus in trade with the United States running at more than $200 billion, that will not remove the likelihood of some blunt discussions about economic differences.

On Monday, three lawmakers from Mr. Obama's Democratic Party introduced legislation to pressure China to let its currency appreciate more rapidly.

Other issues expected to feature in the talks include tensions between North and South Korea, and U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. In a pre-visit interview with two American newspapers, Mr. Hu avoided questions about human rights, but the issue could come up at a joint news conference Wednesday.

Both governments have stressed in recent days their desire to avoid confrontation as China rapidly increases its economic and military power.

Mr. Hu said in his interview with the Washington Post and Wall Street Journal that the two countries should seek "common ground" on a range of issues and "abandon the zero-sum Cold War mentality" in which one country's gain is another country's loss. He said both countries stand to gain from a sound relationship "and lose from confrontation."

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said last week that the United States does not view China's rise as a threat and is not interested in constraining its growth.

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