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January 18th, 2011
Obam in a Position We've Become Uncomfortably Used Too


Chinese leader, Hu Jintao will be in Washington tomorrow for a four-day visit, and the White House is prepping a lavish state dinner to welcome him on Wednesday evening.

It will be the first US state dinner for a Chinese leader in 13 years.
President Hu's trip is meant to patch up relations after a difficult year dominated by tensions over currency rates, jobs, North Korea and other international issues.
But a US economics team sent to Beijing to help negotiate agreements to be announced this week returned to Washington last Friday reporting a lack of progress so far. Instead there are a series of small US-China business deals, about 40 so far, to be announced in Chicago.

Hu will be whisked from Washington to Chicago on Thursday for two days.

The mayor of Chicago, Richard Daley, excitedly announced plans for a gala dinner as well as trips to a Chinese car spare parts factory and a Chinese language school, reflected US excitement about the trip.

"It is a big deal. Big, big, big, big. Big deal," Daley said.

Given China's pivotal role in the global economy and in foreign affairs, it is the most important state visit of the Obama presidency so far.

Obama needs China's help in turning the US economy round, particularly in creating jobs, and in resolving tensions on the Korean peninsula and exerting pressure on Iran.

A slight improvement in exchange rates from a US point of view has taken some of the sting out of currency tensions. Members of Congress had been planning to name China as a currency manipulator, a move that could sour relations but that now seems to be on hold.

China analysts in Washington expressed little hope of any substantial agreement on economics or foreign affairs and said the importance of the meeting was the opportunity for the two to establish a good personal relationship. 



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