Chinese president Hu Jintao visits United States

Saturday, January 22, 2011

President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao of China begin their working dinner in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, Jan. 18, 2011.
Image: Pete Souza/White House.

China's president, Hu Jintao, held a press conference on Wednesday with United States president Barack Obama at the White House. The two leaders spoke about relations between their countries.

Topics included human rights, trade between the US and China, and climate change. Obama noted that China's position on human rights was occasionally a "source of tension," although it did not "prevent [the U.S. and China] from cooperating."

Standing next to each other at the White House, the pair took questions from reporters on the scene. One asked how "[the US can work with] a country known for treating its people so poorly, using censorship and force to repress its people." Obama replied "China has a different political system than we do. China is at a different stage of development than we are. We come from very different cultures and with very different histories. But as I've said before and I repeated to President Hu, we had some core views as Americans about the universality of certain rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly that we think are very important and transcend cultures. I have been very candid with President Hu about these issues."

Hu did not initially respond to this question, blaming technical problems. However, upon being asked later, he stated "a lot still needs to be done" with human rights in the country. Hu stated that both China and the United States must appreciate their individual interests. According to CBS News, the Chinese president was in an "unfamiliar setting"; BBC News noted that the meeting was "rare".