US, Chinese Presidents Share Dinner, Views in Beijing

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U.S. President Barack Obama has held talks with his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, in Beijing, after pushing for uncensored Internet use and greater political freedoms in China.

President Hu hosted a state dinner for Mr. Obama Monday evening at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse.


More meetings are planned for Tuesday, when Mr. Obama and other Chinese leaders are expected to discuss climate change, trade, North Korea and Iran.

White House aides say Mr. Obama will also raise the issue of human rights.

Earlier Monday, President Obama talked with students in Shanghai about what he called the “universal rights” of political expression, religious freedom and free information.

He said he thinks the more freely information flows, the stronger the society becomes.

He also said he supports free access to the Internet, which China strictly censors.

Mr. Obama added that countries should respect each other and should not impose their system of government on any other nation. But he said he will speak out in support of what Americans consider to be basic human freedoms.

The “town hall” meeting Mr. Obama held with university students in Shanghai was broadcast on the White House Web site, but the Chinese government carefully controlled media coverage of the event inside the country. The chat was be broadcast on local television but not nationwide.

During the event, Mr. Obama answered questions submitted by the audience and by Internet-users on various Web sites (including Xinhuanet, Sohu and the U.S. Embassy in Beijing).

On the sensitive topic of Taiwan, Mr. Obama said the United States supports a one-China policy. He said economic links have helped lower tensions across the Taiwan Strait, and that he he hopes for improved ties between Beijing and Taipei. He did not answer a question about U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

Mr. Obama told the students he considered climate change one of the most critical challenges facing the world. He people around the world will be watching what the U.S. and China do on the issue.

‘Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.’