Asia-Pacific

Hu Jintao in Washington: How did the talks go?

As Chinese leader Hu Jintao leaves the United States after a four-day state visit, BBC reporters in Beijing and Washington assess how each side viewed the talks.

Michael Bristow, BBC News, Beijing

A photograph on the front of one Chinese newspaper summed up the mood about President Hu Jintao's visit to the US.

In it, Mr Hu stands at a lectern in front of the White House giving a speech.

US President Barack Obama stands to one side, listening respectfully. China's flag flutters in the breeze.

Images took precedence over substance during the visit

It seems to say that China has arrived: it is now a world power and when its leader goes to Washington, people listen.

That message was hammered home in other news reports.

The main evening bulletin on China Central Television talked about the country's rise - and how the US supported it.

The Chinese president referred to Sino-US ties as a "co-operative partnership", seeming to elevate this relationship above the ordinary.

Xinhua, the state-run news agency, talked about Hu Jintao suggesting ways for the two countries to get on better.

Mr Hu is not content to allow the US to dictate terms.

The imagery of the meeting between the two presidents was always going to matter more than the substance of their talks, which seemed to reveal nothing new from these two giant countries.

The issues - the value of China's currency, Taiwan, trade and North Korea - were all discussed, but most players simply repeated well-entrenched positions.

Even the occasional unexpected event had little effect in China.

Western journalists and commentators got excited when the Chinese president appeared to suggest that his country had improvements to make on human rights.

Chinese leaders do not like to talk about such issues at home so the remark resulted in little reaction from China's state-controlled media.

But people did not seem that concerned either. Many have bought into the idea that China has come a long way already and should be given its own room to develop further.

The Chinese government likes events to go according to plan. President Hu's visit to the US seems to have done just that.

He was shown respect, listened to and had to endure no real awkward moments.

China's leaders - and its people - will be pleased.

Katie Connolly, BBC News, Washington

For President Obama, the significance of Hu Jintao's state visit to Washington this week is perhaps illuminated more sharply by what was not achieved than by what was.

The visit was not an opportunity for Mr Obama to castigate China over its human rights record.

Much of the official visit was geared towards symbolic imagery

It was not his chance to berate China over its relative inaction in defusing tension on the Korean peninsula.

And it was not the moment for him to plunge into an aggressive confrontation over China's manipulation of its currency - a process which aids its exports while hurting US businesses eager to get a firm footing in the lucrative Chinese market.

Those topics were of course broached, if a little gingerly. And in the process, the US nabbed a few nice business deals, worth around $45bn (£28bn).

But these developments were far from the central point.

Mr Obama's pivotal achievement this week was symbolic - two of the most powerful men in the world, standing side by side and acknowledging their mutual need for China's ascendance to be a collaborative affair.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs characterized the evolving Sino-American relationship as co-operative but competitive.

That is the spirit Mr Obama wanted to communicate, with a seeming degree of urgency, in their plumped-up public appearances.

He is acutely aware of the deeply entwined fortunes of the two nations, as well as his own political dependence on China. Increasing demand from across the Pacific could prove an important factor in dragging the US economy out of the doldrums - and Mr Obama's approval ratings with it.

He also no doubt knows of the suspicion towards China that has taken root in the collective American consciousness.

In the 2010 midterms, politicians played on populist fears that China's rise necessitates America's fall; that the Chinese were out to steal jobs and wealth.

This week, an ABC News poll found that 61% of Americans view China as threat to their jobs and economic security.

Such cultural wariness does not foster an atmosphere conducive to sharing of wealth and power.

But the mentality is a difficult one to combat. It is hard to name, even harder to talk about.

And when your counterpart is as inscrutable as Mr Hu, winning over American hearts is not easy.

Perhaps it is a good thing, then, that the US political press seemed more preoccupied this week with translation issues at the press conference, the possibility that the US Ambassador to China might run for president, and who would give the Republican response to next week's state of the union than the two incredibly powerful men on their doorstep, and their delicate, careful choreography.