US to raise human rights when China's Xi visits

AP News
Posted: Feb 10, 2012 7:12 PM
US to raise human rights when China's Xi visits

The White House said Friday it won't recoil from raising grave human rights concerns during a getting-acquainted visit next week by China's likely future leader.

China's Vice President Xi Jinping's trip would be for him to understand issues that are important to America, including the situation in Tibet, and freedom of speech and religion, said White House senior director for Asian affairs, Daniel Russel.

"We don't sacrifice the important issues for the sake of having a comfortable visit," Russel told reporters.

Xi is slated to succeed Hu Jintao as Communist Party leader this fall, then become the nation's president in spring 2013. Hu made a similiar visit to the United States in 2002 before he took the reins of power of the world's most populace nation.

Xi arrives Monday at the invitation of Vice President Joe Biden and will also meet with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta at the Pentagon. He will spend four full days in the United States, also traveling to Iowa and California.

Russel said the visit was unlikely to yield breakthroughs, as Xi is not yet leader, but will build on a three-year effort by the Obama administration to build a cooperative relationship with China.

That would include discussion over the administration's policy to build up its diplomatic and military presence in Asia _ that China views as an attempt to contain its rise.

Also on the agenda: North Korea, Iran and Syria, following China's decision last week to join Russia in vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution pressuring Syrian President Bashar Assad's government over its violent crackdown on opponents.

Of greatest domestic political signifiance in the U.S. will be talks on economic and trade ties. China is an increasingly important export market for the United States, but trade it still heavily skewed in China's favor.

There is pressure on the administration in an election year to get tougher on China over a currency the U.S. contends is undervalued against the dollar, benefiting Chinese exporters unfairly. The U.S. is also urging China to do more to stop intellectual property theft and to reduce subsidies for its state-owned enterprises.