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US media react to Hu Jintao state visit

Matthew Davis | 16:56 UK time, Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit to the United States has spaked a range of comment in the US media, much of it focused on the potential sources of dispute between the giants. Time Magazine's Austin Ramzy in Beijing notes:

One Chinese saying about the country's ties with the U.S. goes like this: the U.S. and China are too dependent on one another for their relationship to be terribly bad, but they are too different from one another for their relationship to ever be very good.

John Bussey, writing in the Wall Street Journal, says that behind the carefully choreographed formal reception for Mr Hu, there will be much behind-the-scenes tension.

It is almost inevitable that when a country gains economic power it uses that new clout to its advantage. Now it's China's turn. Lately, China has been showing the business world the business end of its economic cudgel.

The writer suggests that "Mr Hu will get an earful about China's industrial practices..." and concludes:

... As china grows ever more confident, US business is girding for new dangers in a market it views with a troubling mix of aspiration and anguish.

The New York Times sees "diplomatic dangers" lurking in the state dinner for the chinese leader and says Mr Obama is "walking into a danger zone of protocol and international diplomacy".

Visits by Chinese leaders have often turned into protocol nightmares. When President Hu visited President George W Bush in 2006, a heckler from the Falun Gong spiritual sect interrupted his White House arrival ceremony - a major embarrassment for Mr Bush that was compounded when the official announcer mistakenly confused the official name of China with that of Taiwan, which China claims as part of its sovereign territory.

The paper continues...

... Mr Obama will take pains not to look overly chummy with the Chinese leader. When President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia visited the White House, Mr Obama took him out to a greasy-spoon lunch at Ray's Hell Burger - a kind of buddy road trip that spoke louder than even the most lavish state dinner about Mr. Obama's warm feelings toward his Russian counterpart. There will be no burger runs with Mr Hu.

Meanwhile, the Washington Post's Jim Kuhnhenn suggests that the private dinner between Mr Obama and Mr Hu on Tuesday night contrasted with the pomp of Wednesday's ceremonies in a way which "illustrated Obama's careful mix of warmth and firmness for the leader of a nation that is at once the largest U.S. competitor and most important potential partner".

In an editorial entitled "Three issues Obama should raise with Hu - but probably won't", the Washington Examiner newspaper says:

.. . Eyes across America are opening to the realities behind China's Great Wall. As leader of the free world's pre-eminent power, Obama should speak softly but firmly - and not let Hu forget that America carries a big stick.

The US edition of the China Daily sees Mr Hu's visit as "a crucial moment" in relations that will help steer the nations "onto a stable course of cooperation and peaceful competition".

The past year produced many warning signs of potential trouble as debates erupted on both sides about the other's intentions. Many in the US suspect China is trying to steal US jobs by unfair means and to knock the US from its leading position in world affairs. Many in China suspect the US is trying to "contain" China's return to greatness and its regional influence.
Fortunately, leaders in both countries over the past few months have refrained from the temptation to presume the worst about the other. They have worked to develop greater cooperation in the management of the many security, economic, and political issues that naturally arise among such different and globally engaged societies. They have raised their vision above the journalism of the day.


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