POLITICS

President Obama Welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping At The White House

The visit comes amid major disagreement between the two countries.

 

WASHINGTON, Sept 25 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping for his first U.S. state visit on Friday but behind the pomp and pageantry were tensions over alleged Chinese cyber spying, Beijing's economic policies and territorial disputes with its neighbors.

Obama greeted Xi on arrival at the White House for an elaborate ceremony on the South Lawn, including a military honor guard and 21-gun salute. The two leaders then sat down for a formal summit.

U.S. and Chinese officials hope to cast the talks in a favorable light by showcasing at least one area of cooperation - the global fight against climate change - when the leaders officially unveil a deal later on Friday to build on a landmark emissions agreement struck last year.

China will announce that it will launch a national carbon emissions trading market in 2017 as part of the joint climate change statement, U.S. officials said.

But that cooperative achievement was likely to be overshadowed by major disagreements that underscore a growing rivalry between the world's two biggest economic powers.

Obama told Xi that the United States would continue to speak out over its differences with China.

"We believe that nations are more successful and the world makes more progress when our companies compete on a level playing field, when disputes are resolved peacefully and when the universal human rights of all people are upheld," he said in a welcoming speech, with Xi standing at his side.

On a more conciliatory note, Obama reiterated that the United States welcomes the rise of a China that is "stable, prosperous and peaceful."

Xi then spoke of a need to be "broad-minded" about the two countries' differences, to have "mutual respect" and "meet each other half-way" in order to improve relations.

As the two leaders spoke, dozens of pro- and anti-Xi protesters gathered near the White House grounds, waving flags, beating drums and shouting slogans.

FOR XI, POPE VISIT IS TOUGH ACT TO FOLLOW

Despite the ceremonial honors, the Chinese Communist leader, coming to Washington on the heels of Pope Francis, can expect nothing like the wall-to-wall U.S. news coverage given the popular pontiff, who drew adoring crowds wherever he went. On Friday, live television broadcasts of the pope's visit to the United Nations drowned out Xi's arrival at the White House.

The summit will yield the commitment by China, the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gases, to begin a national "cap-and-trade" program in 2017 to limit emissions, U.S. officials said. It is an effort to build momentum toward a global climate change pact in Paris later this year, something Obama sees as part of his legacy.

However, no major policy breakthroughs are expected on the big issues that divide the two countries.

High on the agenda is cyber security, a growing source of strain after high-profile cyber attacks on U.S. business and government databases blamed on Chinese hackers. Washington is considering sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals.

Visiting Seattle on the first leg of his trip, Xi denied involvement by the Chinese government and pledged to work with the United States to fight cyber crime. While Obama's aides say no formal agreement is likely, Chinese officials have suggested the possibility of a basic deal against cyber warfare.

Xi sought to reassure companies during his Seattle trip that he is working to improve the investment climate in China. His visit there included an announcement by Boeing that it had won $38 billion worth of orders and commitments for planes from China.

Obama is expected to press Xi to follow through on economic reforms and refrain from discrimination against U.S. companies operating in China. Some analysts believe Obama has more leverage due to China's slowing economic growth, which has destabilized global markets.

At the same time, the Obama administration is still at a loss about how to curb China's assertiveness in the South China Sea, where Beijing has continued to reclaim land for potential military use despite conflicting claims with its neighbors.

The two leaders held a private 2-1/2-hour dinner after Xi's arrival in the capital on Thursday to begin grappling with the issues.

On Friday, Obama will host a lavish black-tie state dinner where guests will dine on Maine lobster and Colorado lamb.

Calls for Obama to take a harder line with China have echoed from Congress to the 2016 Republican presidential campaign. But his approach will be tempered because the U.S. and Chinese economies are so closely bound.

For his part, Xi, faced with nationalistic sentiment rising at home, can ill afford the appearance of making concessions.

His meetings with Obama could bolster the Chinese leader's stature at home, building on a high-profile military parade earlier this month to mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War Two, while deflecting attention from China's economic problems. (Additional reporting by Jeff Mason, Valerie Volcovici, Julia Edwards, David Brunnstrom; Writing by Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Frances Kerry)

WASHINGTON, Sept 25 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama hosted Chinese President Xi Jinping for his first U.S. state visit on Friday but the pomp and ceremony was not likely to mask tensions over alleged Chinese cyber spying, Beijing's economic policies and territorial disputes with its neighbors.

Obama greeted Xi on arrival at the White House for an elaborate ceremony on the South Lawn, including a military honor guard, which will be followed by a formal summit and a lavish state dinner.

U.S. and Chinese officials hope to cast the talks in a favorable light by showcasing at least one area of cooperation - the global fight against climate change - when the leaders announce a deal later Friday to build on a landmark emissions agreement struck last year.

But that achievement is all but certain to be overshadowed by major disagreements that underscore a growing rivalry between the world's two biggest economic powers.
Despite the ceremonial honors, the Chinese Communist leader, coming to Washington on the heels of Pope Francis, can expect nothing like the wall-to-wall U.S. news coverage given the popular pontiff, who drew adoring crowds wherever he went.

In diplomatic terms as well, no major policy breakthroughs are expected on the big issues that divide the two countries.

But the summit will yield a significant announcement by Xi of a commitment by China, the world's biggest producer of greenhouse gases, to begin a national "cap-and-trade" program in 2017 to limit emissions, U.S. officials said. It is an effort to build momentum toward a global climate change pact in Paris later this year, something Obama sees as part of his legacy.

However, the announcement is expected to be one of the summit's few tangible policy achievements.

High on the agenda is cyber security, a growing source of strain after high-profile cyber attacks on U.S. business and government databases blamed on Chinese hackers. Washington is considering sanctions against Chinese companies and individuals.
Visiting Seattle on the first leg of his trip, Xi denied involvement by the Chinese government and pledged to work with the United States to fight cyber crime. While Obama's aides say no formal agreement is likely, Chinese officials have suggested the possibility of a basic deal against cyber warfare.

Obama is also expected to press Xi to follow through on economic reforms and refrain from discrimination against U.S. companies operating in China. Some analysts believe Obama has more leverage due to China's slowing economic growth, which has destabilized global markets.

At the same time, the Obama administration is still at a loss about how to curb China's assertiveness in the South China Sea, where Beijing has continued to reclaim land for potential military use despite conflicting claims with its neighbors.
The two leaders held a private 2-1/2-hour dinner on Thursday after Xi's arrival to begin grappling with their differences.

Calls for Obama to take a harder line with China have echoed from Congress to the 2016 Republican presidential campaign. But his approach will be tempered because the world's two biggest economies are inextricably bound together.
For his part, Xi, faced with nationalistic sentiment rising at home, can ill afford the appearance of making concessions.

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