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President Hu kicks off visit amid expectations
Latest Updated by 2006-04-19 09:19:49
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Two American girls in traditional Chinese clothes present flowers to Chinese President Hu Jintao and his wife Liu Yongqing in the airport of Seattle, Washington State, US on April 18, 2006. [Xinhua Photo]

President Hu Jintao arrived in Seattle today for his first state visit to the United States, the highlight of which will be a summit with his US counterpart George W. Bush in Washington DC.

The long-awaited visit will help the two powers strengthen mutual understanding and trust while seeking more common ground, international studies experts and officials said.

Hu's first trip to Washington was four years ago when he was the vice-president; he had to postpone his planned US trip last September due to Hurricane Katrina.

During his two-day stay in this coastal city of Washington state, Hu will tour Microsoft's headquarters and dine with company founder Bill Gates before visiting a Boeing plant.

The president will then move to the east coast in an itinerary that includes a speech at Yale University, Bush's alma mater, to explain China's sustainable and peaceful growth strategy.

Hu's fifth summit with Bush since last May is likely to cover talks on Taiwan, trade, intellectual property rights and China's currency.

Also expected to be on the agenda are the nuclear standoffs on the Korean Peninsula and in Iran.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang yesterday reaffirmed that Taiwan would be one of the main topics of discussion when the two leaders meet.

"The Taiwan question is the most important and sensitive core issue in China-US relations," he told a regular press conference.

"We cannot sideline the Taiwan question."

In Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan told a news briefing on Monday that "President Bush is looking forward to seeing President Hu later this week."

"This is an important strategic relationship we have. There are many areas of common concern where we are working together."

Although the two countries also have a number of differences, the spokesman said, the US-Chinese relationship "has moved forward and matured to a point where we can speak openly and candidly about those disagreements."
 
Yuan Peng, a researcher at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said the summit would allow the two leaders to discuss how to establish a more stable strategic framework to ensure healthy and peaceful development of bilateral ties.

As Sino-US ties show signs of maturing, increased co-operation does not hinge on just one summit, Yuan told China Daily.

The Hu-Bush summit will focus on economic and trade frictions among other issues, predicted Zhu Feng, an expert on Sino-US relations at Peking University.

China is the third-largest trade partner of the United States, which is the second largest of China. However, the two countries have some frictions in the economic and trade sectors, ranging from the exchange rate of renminbi and the US trade deficit with China to IPR protection.

"The two leaders now face a new challenge: Whether or not economic and trade frictions will hinder the advancement of political relations," Zhu said.

China has shown its strong resolve to push forward economic and trade co-operation, said Zhu, citing the recent signing of agreements to buy products and commodities worth more than US$16 billion.

It is also important for the US administration to assure China that economic frictions will not block the progress of political ties, he said.

The researcher said the two countries should co-ordinate efforts in handling nuclear issues in Iran and the Korean Peninsula and in the anti-terrorism campaign.

On the question of Taiwan, the assurance by the US side on the one-China policy is not enough and the two countries must boost their co-operation to oppose and contain "Taiwan independence," which is beneficial to both sides, according to Zhu.

David M. Lampton, director of China Studies at Nixon Centre, said in an article published in the People's Daily on Monday that Hu's visit will "assist Americans to better understand the complexities of China's circumstances at the same time that he is exposed to the very real human problems Americans face."

"Leaders in America often follow public opinion. If the American people better understand China, their leaders will act on this improved understanding," he said.

Besides the United States, Hu will also visit Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Nigeria and Kenya from April 22 to April 29.

Editor: Yan

By: Sun Shangwu and Xing Zhigang Source: China Daily Website
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