Chinese President Hu Jintao arrives in Washington today for a series of meetings with U.S. officials, including President Obama. The visit will culminate on Wednesday with an official state dinner. It comes a week after U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates traveled to China, where he took a firm stand against China's recent military build-up. Hu's visit has already prompted a number of regrettable witticisms. But beneath the pun-heavy headines, here's what reporters, pundits, and analysts are saying about the Hu-Obama meetings and why they matter.
- NYT: Less Competition, More Cooperation The New York Times editorial board urges Hu and Obama to "set a new course in which competition is carefully managed and a premium is placed on cooperation. That will require a commitment to sustained discussion of the many issues dividing them--and an agreement to keep talking even in difficult times." They sigh, "For a country that claims to be a global power, it is still shirking its responsibilities." Specifically, that means sending aid to North Korea and helping to develop Iran despite international sanctions.
- Obama Should Contain, Not Engage The hawkish Foreign Policy Initiative argues, "President Obama should permanently abandon his initial attempts to build a 'G-2' style of bilateral relations with Beijing. Instead, Washington should reassert and rebuild American military and economic power in the interest of approaching China from a position and posture of strength. The administration must accept the reality that China remains a one-party dictatorship that is fundamentally disinterested in adopting Western values, even as its economy grows."
- Currency Dispute Goes On Al Jazeera reports on perhaps the most contentious issue. "Critics say China intentionally undervalues the its yuan to make its exports cheaper and gain a trade advantage, contributing to the huge US trade deficit. Hu said arguments that allowing the yuan to appreciate would curb inflation are too simplistic, adding that China is fighting inflation with a range of policies including interest-rate increases," they write. "Three Democratic senators--Charles Schumer, Debbie Stabenow, and Bob Casey--said on Sunday that they would propose legislation to try and fix the problem. The legislation would impose stiff new penalties on countries that the treasury department designated as currency manipulators. The treasury has not labelled any country a currency manipulator since July 1994 when it cited China."
- China Sees U.S. as Threat The Wall Street Journal's Laurie Burkitt notes, "More than half of Chinese believe that U.S-China relations have deteriorated over the past year and 80% of them point the finger at Washington, a recent survey conducted by state-owned media China Daily and Horizon Research Consultancy Group shows. A total of 54% of Chinese agree that the relationship between the two countries has become 'very important,' compared to 26% in a similar survey conducted in 2009, China Daily says. An overwhelming 90% view it as 'important.'"
- Geithner's Freer Trade Proposal "Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said the United States would grant China more access to high-tech American products and expand trade and investment opportunities in the United States only if China opened its own domestic market to American products," The New York Times' Helene Cooper explains. "Mr. Geithner said China also needed to take additional steps to allow its currency, the renminbi, to appreciate in value--an issue a bipartisan group of senators vowed on Monday to address with legislation this year."