Obama: $45B deals show China’s rise can help US


Will Reid's comments hurt US-China realtions? Hu will face even tougher critics of China's human rights record soon.

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is looking to assure Americans that they should not fear China’s economic rise, using Chinese President Hu Jintao’s high-profile state visit to announce job-creating business deals worth billions of dollars to U.S. companies.

On another big American concern, human rights, Hu conceded that “a lot still needs to be done” to improve China’s record.

The business deals and Hu’s human rights comments were among the highlights of a ceremony-packed day seen as key to building trust between the world’s top two powers.

Five years after his last visit to the White House, one that was marred by protocol blunders, Hu was feted Wednesday with the full pomp of a state visit, including a lavish dinner with some of Washington’s most powerful figures and other luminaries.

The two sides played down differences and stressed areas of cooperation, ranging from a plan to cooperate on nuclear security to an extension of the loan of two Chinese pandas to Washington’s zoo.

On Thursday, Hu could face a tougher audience when he meets with U.S. lawmakers — a few of whom skipped the dinner and have been deeply critical of China’s authoritarian government.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., called Hu “a dictator” in an interview Wednesday, although he later tried to recant the comment. In the House, several Republican lawmakers assailed the Chinese government’s record on human rights, military expansion, financial strategy and weapons sales.

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