Obama greets China's Xi with friendly words, firm stance

February 14, 2012 19:43

WASHINGTON - US President Barack Obama pressed Chinese leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping on Tuesday over his country's huge trade surpluses with the United States and vowed to keep pressure on China to improve its human rights record.

In White House talks, Obama sought to reassure Xi that Washington welcomed China's "peaceful rise" but made clear that tensions remain in a growing economic and military rivalry between the two countries.

Xi's White House visit was the centerpiece of a US trip that may help the Chinese vice president boost his international standing and show he is capable of steering his country's crucial relationship with Washington for the next decade.

Obama sought to balance his desire to make a good start with Xi with the political need to look firm with Beijing in an election year when American voters' anti-China sentiment is running high.

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