President Barack Obama said continued U.S. pressure on China over human rights is a source of tension that won’t halt progress in the relationship between the two countries.
The U.S. has “core views” on human rights that “transcend” differences in history and culture between the U.S. and China, Obama said at a news conference today with President Hu Jintao at the White House. He expects China’s views will change.
“There has been an evolution in China over the past 30 Years, and my expectation is that 30 years from now we will see further evolution,” Obama said in response to a question.
Hu initially didn’t answer the question, saying later that because of technical problems with the translation he didn’t hear it. When it was raised again, Hu said China respects “the universality of human rights.”
China is still a developing country that faces economic and social challenges, he said. “A lot still needs to be done in China in terms of human rights,” Hu said.
The issue has been a source of friction between the two countries, including China’s treatment of dissidents and how it deals with Tibet.
Hu and Obama said they the topic was part of the discussion at their meeting today and in previous talks.
Obama raised the issue in his remarks at the welcoming ceremony, saying that “history shows that societies are more harmonious, nations are more successful, the world is more just when the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld, including the universal rights of every human being.” The ruling Communist Party uses the word “harmonious” in its campaigns to keep social order in China.
Outside the White House during the press conference, protesters demonstrated along the street, some carrying signs calling on China to “Free Tibet Now.”
Hu’s 2006 visit to the White House to meet with then- President George W. Bush was marred by a demonstrator at the welcoming ceremony who criticized China’s persecution of the Falun Gong religious group.
--With assistance from Roger Runningen and Kate Andersen Brower in Washington. Editors: Joe Sobczyk, Don Frederick
To contact the reporters on this story: Hans Nichols in Washington at Hnichols2@bloomberg.net; Nicholas Johnston in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org;
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