TOPICS > Politics

Obama Cites Human Rights, Currency in China

BY Maureen Hoch  November 17, 2009 at 12:38 PM EST

President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao; AFP/Getty

Hu said at a joint press conference that as the world economy “has shown some positive signs of stabilizing and recovering,” it is important for both countries to “oppose and reject protectionism in all its forms,” quoted the Washington Post.

His comments were an apparent reference to the new round of U.S. levies against imports of Chinese tires and steel pipes, which Beijing opposes.

Outside pressure has been building on Beijing to let the yuan rise after more than a year of it being nearly frozen in place against the dollar, with the latest appeal voiced by the head of the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

President Obama raised the issue of currencies in both of the bilateral sessions he held with Hu and Chinese officials, said White House adviser on international economic affairs Michael Froman. He declined to comment on the Chinese response.

On the issues of climate change and nuclear proliferation, Mr. Obama said they were “challenges that neither of our nations can solve by acting alone.”

He said the two will continue to “build a positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship.” “I spoke to President Hu about America’s bedrock beliefs that all men and women possess certain fundamental human rights,” Mr. Obama said, according to the Washington Post.

“We do not believe these principles are unique to America, but rather they are universal rights and that they should be available to all peoples, to all ethnic and religious minorities.

And our two countries agreed to continue to move this discussion forward in a human rights dialogue that is scheduled for early next year.”

President Obama also raised the issue of human rights, saying “We do not believe these principles are unique to America, but rather they are universal rights and that they should be available to all peoples, to all ethnic and religious minorities.”

Hu said both countries would hold more talks on human rights, but that the two countries should treat each other as equals. “We will continue to act in a spirit of equality, mutual respect and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs,” said Hu.

Chinese state-run television carried the joint appearance live, including Mr. Obama’s pitch for “universal rights” and talks between Beijing and Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

The broadcast stood in contrast with limited media coverage of President Obama’s hall-style meeting with Chinese students in Shanghai on Monday.

But the official Chinese news coverage that followed Tuesday’s Great Hall of the People event was reported to have focused on the part of Mr. Obama’s message that the United States accepts Tibet as part of China.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said the administration had not expected “that the waters would part and everything would change over our almost two-and-a-half day trip to China,” quoted the Post.

Later Tuesday, President Obama attended a state dinner hosted by Hu, which was the major social event of his eight-day tour through four Asian nations.