Hu's Visit Yields Modest Results As Chinese President Hu Jintao winds up a visit to the U.S., analysts say Hu and President Obama went out of their way to stress the potential for cooperation and benefits to both countries. Still, many complex issues in the often tense bilateral relationship were left unresolved.

Hu's Visit Yields Modest Results For Both U.S., China

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.


And I'm Melissa Block.

China's president, Hu Jintao, paid a visit to Capitol Hill today. He'll be in Chicago tonight and tomorrow before heading back to China.

NPR's Jackie Northam looks at what was accomplished during President Hu's four-day visit and what issues remain between the two nations.

(Soundbite of music)

JACKIE NORTHAM: Swinging jazz was just part of the entertainment last night at a state dinner honoring Chinese President Hu. The lavish black-tie affair at the White House was a mix of American businessmen, entertainers such as Barbra Streisand - a favorite of Hu's - and successful Chinese-Americans.

The dinner topped off a very full day of meetings and pomp and circumstance for the Chinese leader, starting with a 21-gun salute on the South Lawn of the White House.

Nicholas Lardy, an expert on the Chinese economy at the Peterson Institute of International Economics, says all this helped set a good tone for the summit.

Dr. NICHOLAS LARDY (Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics): First of all, all the arrangements went off flawlessly. There were no gaffs as there have been in some earlier visits, and that will look very good for President Hu back in China and, quite frankly, that was one of their main objectives.

NORTHAM: Lardy says both Presidents Obama and Hu went out of their way to stress the potential for cooperation and benefits to both countries. He says while the Chinese leader got his high-profile welcome, the U.S. also got a number of things out of the summit, including $45 billion in Chinese trade and investment.

China also agreed to stiffen its enforcement of intellectual property rights and to soften its so-called indigenous innovation policies, which discriminate against American companies vying for lucrative Chinese government contracts.

Lardy says all this sounds good but offered caution.

Dr. LARDY: What's really important is how certain commitments are carried out, and the language always has certain ambiguities. And one side will have one interpretation and the other side will have another interpretation. Now, hopefully in this case, the gulf between the two sides is very modest. And until we actually see it carried out, it may be premature to just declare victory.

NORTHAM: Lardy says there were other small signs of progress - promises to cooperate on climate change, clean energy and the environment. On the issue of human rights, President Hu acknowledged that China recognizes and respects the universality of human rights. In a joint statement, China also expressed concern over a North Korean nuclear enrichment plant.

But there was no movement - at least in public - on U.S. concerns over China's currency, which analysts here say is undervalued and harms U.S. exporters. President Obama addressed the issue during a joint press conference.

President BARACK OBAMA: So we'll continue to look for the value of China's currency to be increasingly driven by the market, which will help ensure that no nation has an undue economic advantage.

NORTHAM: There was little expectation that all of the many issues on both sides could be worked out. The U.S.-China relation is complex and often plagued with problems. Just over the past year, China stopped military-to-military relations after the U.S. sold weapons to Taiwan.

Evan Feigenbaum, the Asia director at the Eurasia Group, says this week's summit is an opportunity to help establish a personal bond between the presidents.

Dr. EVAN FEIGENBAUM (Asia Director, Eurasia Group): After a year of particularly tense relations, the visit - even though it hasn't resolved any of those underlying structural issues in a sense - has improved the atmosphere a little bit. It's helped to clear the air a bit, and I think it's a reflection of the nature of the U.S.-China relationship now. It's just going to be characterized by a series of issues that need to be worked through on an ongoing basis.

NORTHAM: Still, Feigenbaum says the U.S.-China relationship is now bigger than just government to government, and that domestic policies on both sides may do more to determine progress on critical issues than presidential summits.

Jackie Northam, NPR News, Washington.

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