Engagement with China in US' national interest: White House

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Washington, Aug 27: Facing criticism from the Republican party on inviting Chinese President Xi Jinping for a state visit next month, amid allegations of cyber-attacks and human rights issues, the White House has said that engagement with China is in the national interest of the US.

"The (US) President has found engagement with China to be an effective way for the United States to advance our interest around the world," White House Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, told reporters yesterday.

White House

"The President travelled to China last fall and announced an historic climate change agreement with China, in which China, for the first time, made a public commitment, standing alongside the United States president to cap their carbon emissions," he said.

"And there was a lot of scepticism among the chief critics of the President's placing a priority on climate change policy that China would ever take any sort of meaningful step toward that goal," he said, adding, by engaging with China at a variety of levels, including at the highest level, Obama was able to advance US interests by conducting that engagement.

"So I think that's just one example of why it's important, particularly in this case, for the US president to engage with his Chinese counterpart," the White House Press Secretary said. The scheduled visit of Xi has attracted criticism from the Republican party, on account of allegations of cyber-attacks originating from China and deterioration of human rights conditions there.

When Obama meets his Chinese counterpart next month, Earnest said cyber-security issues would be one of the important topics for discussion. "There's no doubt that the President will certainly, as he has in every previous meeting with his Chinese counterpart, concerns about China's behaviour in cyberspace," he said.

"Those concerns are well-chronicled and I'm confident will be the subject of discussion when the President meets with his counterpart," he said.

"At the same time, the economic instability that we've seen in China has contributed to some volatility in financial markets across the global, and in this interconnected 21st century economy, you know, the President's mindful of that," Earnest said. Obama, he said, is also mindful of the sovereignty of China, which the US respects.

"At the same time, we've also advocated a variety of reforms that China should put in place because of the positive effect they would not just have on the Chinese, but on the global economy," he said. "I'm confident that the President will reiterate and even press China to make more rapid progress in implementing those reforms," Earnest said in response to a question.

PTI

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