Obama urges Xi to be partner in ensuring world order
US President Barack Obama said yesterday a successful China was in the interests of the United States and the world but Beijing had to be a partner in underwriting international order, and not undermine it.
Speaking to growing concerns among US and other companies about the Chinese business environment after arriving in Beijing, Obama also urged China to reject the use of cyber theft for commercial gain and create a more level playing field where policy is not used for the benefit of some firms over others.
Obama's trip to China for an Asia-Pacific summit comes at a time of growing China-US friction with Washington trying to expand American interests in Asia while Chinese President Xi Jinping demonstrates more willingness than his predecessors to demonstrate Beijing's clout on regional issues.
"Our message is that we want to see China successful," Obama told a news conference. "But, as they grow, we want them to be a partner in underwriting the international order, not undermining it."
Obama and Xi will meet over dinner tonight and then for bilateral talks as part of an official state visit tomorrow.
In a deal that he said would improve trade and business ties between the world's two largest economies, Obama announced that China and the United States agreed to significantly extend the length of short-term visas. But he also urged Beijing's leaders to create a fair market place for foreign firms.
"We look to China to create a more level playing field on which foreign companies are treated fairly, so that they can compete fairly with Chinese companies," he said in a speech to business leaders at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
"We look to China to become an innovative economy that values the protection of intellectual property rights, and rejects cyber theft of trade secrets for commercial gain."
Earlier, Obama said momentum was building on the ambitious 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), although US officials had ruled out a major announcement on the pact in Beijing.
He urged China to move "definitively" to a more market-based exchange rate and to stand up for human rights and freedom of the press.
Under the visa deal, which will take effect on Nov 12, both countries would extend the terms of multiple entry short-term tourist and business visas to 10 years from one year, the White House said in a statement accompanying Obama's announcement. Student visas would be extended to five years from one year.
A senior US official said the visa agreement would allow the United States to tap into the fast-growing market of Chinese tourists traveling abroad. The United States now attracts only 2 percent of Chinese tourism.
"We see this as a really big win," the official said, estimating that the United States could gain 440,000 jobs by 2021 and receive an $85 billion annual infusion into the American economy as a result of the new policy.
It will also make it easier for Chinese businesses and investors to get involved in US projects.