Lalit K Jha
Washington, Jan 19 (PTI) The Chinese President HuJintao was accorded a red carpet welcome by the US after hearrived on a four-day state visit, even as lawmakersintroduced a legislation against yuan manipulation.
The US Vice President Joe Biden was himself present atthe Andrews Air Force Base to greet the Chinese President lastevening, reflecting the high priority the Obama Administrationattaches to its relationship with China.
"I look forward to having in-depth discussions withPresident (Barack) Obama on China-US relations and majorinternational and regional issues of shared interest," Hu saidin a statement after his arrival.
The Chinese leader said the purpose of his visit is toenhance mutual trust, promote friendship, deepen cooperationand move forward the positive, cooperative and comprehensiveSino-US relationship for the 21st century.
While, the official welcome ceremony is scheduled atthe White House this morning, within hours of his arrival, theChinese President with a small group of close aides drove downto the White House for a private dinner hosted by the USPresident Barack Obama.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and NationalSecurity Advisor Tom Donilon were among the few attending theprivate dinner hosted by Obama to which officials said itwould set the tone for today''s formal meeting at the OvalOffice and the one of the Cabinet-level meeting.
Today, Obama will host Hu to the state dinner at theWhite House -- the first for a Chinese leader in 13 years.
This would be Obama''s third state dinner. The first one wasthat of the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on November24, 2009. More PTI LKJ
Hours before his arrival, the White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs hoped that the state visit of theChinese President would advance the relationship between thetwo countries, which the Obama Administration has termed asone of the most critical bilateral ties of the 21st century.
Iran, North Korea, economic relations in particularthe alleged currency manipulation by China and human rightsituation are some of the issues that are expected to dominatethe talks for next two days, after which Hu travels toChicago.
"We have a relationship that yields substantialbenefits. At the same time, we have some direct and difficultchallenges. Most of those will be discussed tomorrow," Gibbssaid.
However, some of the contentious issues like humanrights and Tibet are expected to come only during the talks atthe Oval office or the Cabinet level meeting at the WhiteHouse and not to other meetings like the State Dinner, Gibbssaid.
At the same time groups of Senators came out in openagainst the alleged Chinese manipulation of its currency,human rights violations and its support to regimes like thatof North Korea and Burma.
Senators Charles Schumer, Debbie Stabenow and BobCasey announced their decision to introduce a legislation that"vigorously addresses" such alleged currency misalignmentsthat unfairly and negatively impact US trade.
If passed, the legislation would provide lessflexibility to the Treasury Department when it comes to citingcountries for currency manipulation, they said. The proposedlegislation will also impose stiff new penalties on designatedcountries, including duties on the countries'' exports and aban on any companies from those countries receiving USgovernment contracts.
New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand dispatched aletter to Obama asking him to press Hu on issues related tocyber security and rare earth elements (REE).
"Cyber security and REEs greatly affect both thenational and economic security of the United States, and Icontinue to be concerned about China''s policies regardingthese two strategic interests," she stated in her letter. PTILKJ