Hu Jintao Arrives in U.S.; Obama Calls for Human Rights Reform

Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in the U.S. Tuesday for a four-day state visit aimed at settling economic, global security and human rights disputes between the two nations.

In 2010, Washington and Beijing battled over China’s currency, international trade issues, China’s human rights record and the United States’ military support of Taiwan.

Hu is poised to assert China’s validity as a rising world power while soothing fears over its intentions.

Meanwhile, President Obama hopes to make progress on China’s troubling human rights issues, and will likely present Hu with the message that expanded civil rights could spur economic growth, the Washington Post reports.

On Wednesday, Hu was met with a grand arrival ceremony on the White House’s South Lawn, where Obama pushed his human rights reform agenda in a speech welcoming the Chinese president.

“History shows that societies are more harmonious, nations are more successful and the world is more just when the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld, including the universal rights of every human being,” Obama said.

“Harmonious Society” is a catchphrase of Hu’s administration as his Communist Party tries to retain power in China’s budding free market economy. The Chinese sometimes use the term ironically: Web sites that suddenly vanish are “harmonized away,” the New York Times reports.

Activists have urged Obama to address concerns about worsening human rights conditions in China.

Hu said during the arrival ceremony Wednesday that U.S.-Chinese relations should be based on mutual respect. He said he hoped the state visit would “open a new chapter in cooperation as partners.”

It is Hu’s first trip to the U.S. since 2006.

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