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White House / U.S.-China Summit

Live-Blogging the U.S. Visit of China's Hu

President Obama and Chinese President Hu participate in the state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House.(Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images)

January 19, 2011

As China's president visits Washington, we live-blog the events of the day:

9:10 p.m. The full White House transcript of the toasts Presidents Hu and Obama exchanged follows:

PRESIDENT OBAMA:  Good evening, everybody.  Please have a seat.  On behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House.  And thank you for joining us as we host President Hu and the Chinese delegation, and as we pay tribute to the bonds between two great nations and two proud peoples.

There are too many distinguished guests to mention all of you tonight.  But I do want to acknowledge a few who have championed relations between our nations:  First of all, President Jimmy Carter and his wonderful wife Rosalynn Carter are here.  (Applause.)  As well as President Bill Clinton and my outstanding Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.  (Applause.)   

President Hu, we have met today in a spirit of mutual respect:  the United States -- the oldest democracy in the world, and China -- one of the oldest civilizations in the world.  And while it’s easy to focus on our differences of culture and perspective, let us never forget the values that our people share:  A reverence for family; the belief that, with education and hard work and with sacrifice, the future is what we make it; and most of all, the desire to give our children a better life.  

Let’s also never forget that throughout our history our people have worked together for mutual progress.  We’ve traded together for more than 200 years.  We stood together in the Second World War.  Chinese immigrants and Chinese Americans have helped to build America, including many who join us here tonight.

The Chinese and American people work together and create new opportunities together every single day.  Mr. President, today we’ve shown that our governments can work together as well, for our mutual benefit.  And that includes this bit of news -— under a new agreement, our National Zoo will continue to dazzle children and visitors with the beloved giant pandas.  (Applause.)    

I'm told that there is a Chinese proverb that says:  If you want one year of prosperity, then grow grain.  If you want 10 years of prosperity, then grow trees.  But if you want 100 years of prosperity, then you grow people.   

And so I propose a toast -- to our people, the citizens of the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America. May they grow together in friendship.  May they prosper together in peace.  And may they realize their dream of the future for themselves, for their children, and for their grandchildren.   

Ganbei.  (Applause.)  

PRESIDENT HU:  (As translated.)  President Obama and Mrs. Obama, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, dear friends, good evening.  I am delighted to once again come to the United States and pay a state visit at the invitation of President Obama.

Since setting foot on this beautiful land, we have received the gracious hospitality of the U.S. government and people.   This evening President Obama is hosting this welcoming dinner for us, and has just made warm remarks.  On behalf of my colleagues and in my own name, I want to express heartfelt thanks to President and Mrs. Obama and other American friends present today.

I also wish to convey through you the best wishes of the Chinese people to the friendly American people and extend cordial greetings to people from various sectors of the United States who have given care and support to the growth of U.S.-China relations.

The purpose of my visit is to increase mutual trust, enhance friendship, deepen cooperation and advance the positive, cooperative and comprehensive China-U.S. relationship for the 21st century.  

In recent years, particularly over the past two years since President Obama took office, China-U.S. relations have made strong headway, thanks to the joint efforts of both sides.  

We have increased exchanges in cooperation in a wide range of areas, maintained close communication and coordination on major international and regional issues, and played a positive role in promoting peace, stability and prosperity in the Asia Pacific region and the whole world.

Under the current circumstances, our two countries share broader common interests, show their bigger common responsibilities, and face more severe common challenges than at any time in history.  As a result, it is more important than ever for us to maintain the long-term, sound and steady growth of our bilateral relations.  This is the reality we face, and it should be recognized by both sides.

This morning President Obama and I had an in-depth exchange of views on China-U.S. relations and international and regional issues of common interest.  And we reached important agreement.  We agreed that our two countries should increase contacts at the top and other levels, strengthen strategic mutual trust through dialogue and communication, intensify exchanges and cooperation in all fields, and step up communication and coordination on international and regional issues.

We agreed that the two countries should respect each other’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and the development interests, properly handle differences and frictions, and work together to build a China-U.S. cooperative partnership based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.

China-U.S. relations have traveled a extraordinary journey in the past 32 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties. A review of the history of our relations shows that we have far more common interests than differences, and cooperation for mutual benefit as always being the mainstream of our relations.  This has reinforced our confidence in further pushing forward our relationship.

Today both China and the United States are confronted with the arduous task of sustaining steady economic growth and achieving economic transformation.  And we both need to tackle the various challenges brought by economic globalization.  This has added to our need and desire to enhance cooperation.

We should pursue our relations with a stronger conviction, a broader vision and more proactive approach.  We need to take solid steps and make pioneering efforts to fully tap the potential of cooperation and strive for new progress in China-U.S. relations.

I am confident that with joint efforts, a China-U.S. cooperative partnership will yield bountiful fruits for the greater benefit of our people, and make new and bigger contribution to the noble cause of world peace and development.

Now I'd like to propose a toast -- to the health of President and Mrs. Obama; to the health of all friends present here; to the stronger friendship between the people of China and the United States; and to the steady growth of China-U.S. relations.  

Cheers.  (Applause.)


8:44 p.m. In his toast, President Hu made repeated reference to the similarities and shared goals of the U.S. and China. Again, according to a rush transcript, Hu said "our two countries share broader common interests, showed their bigger common responsibilities and face more severe common challenges than at any time in history." He later added "we have far more common interests than differences and cooperation for mutual benefits has always been the mainstream of our relations."

8:39 p.m. The toasts have been made, but we have a few more quotes from Presidents Hu and Obama thanks to a rush transcript. In introducing his toast, President Obama said "I'm told that there is a Chinese proverb that says if you want one year of prosperity, then grow grain. If you want ten years of prosperity, then grow trees. But if you want 100 years of prosperity, then you grow people." With that, Obama segued into his toast to the people of both countries (below).

8:33 p.m. President Hu spoke after President Obama finished his toast, saying “it is more important than ever for us to maintain the long-term sound and steady growth of our bilateral relations. This is the reality we face and it should be recognized by both sides.”

8:27 p.m. President Obama toasted President Hu, saying "to our people: the citizens of the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America. May they grow together in friendship, may they prosper together in peace and may they realize their dream of the future for themselves, for their children, and for their grandchildren."

6:38 p.m.-- I've heard many requests for a photo of Michelle Obama's dress by Alexander McQueen. Here it is, thanks to Getty (for a full-length version click on the photo):

5:05 p.m.-- Drumroll, ladies and gentleman. The list of people expected to attend the State Dinner is revealed!



The Honorable Madeleine Albright, Washington, D.C.

Ms. Alice Albright

Ms. Christiane Amanpour, ABC News, New York, NY

Mr. James Rubin

The Honorable David Axelrod, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor

Mrs. Susan Axelrod

Mr. Jeffrey Bader, National Security Council

Ms. Rohini Talalla

The Honorable Elizabeth Bagley, Washington, D.C.

Mr. Kevin Frawley

Mr. Steven Ballmer, Microsoft, Redmond, WA

Mrs. Connie Ballmer

Ms. Bette Bao Lord, New York, NY

The Honorable Winston Lord

Mrs. Denise Bauer, Belvedere Tiburon, CA

The Honorable Howard Berman, Representative from California

      Mrs. Janis Berman

Vice President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Dr. Jill Biden

The Honorable Joseph Beau Biden, III, Attorney General of Delaware, Wilmington, DE

Mrs. Hallie Biden

His Excellency Zheng Bijian, Chairman, CIIDS

His Excellency Dai Bingguo, State Councilor

Mr. Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs, New York, NY

Mrs. Laura Blankfein

The Honorable Antony Blinken, Deputy Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor, Office of the Vice President

The Honorable Stephen Breyer, United States Supreme Court

Dr. Johanna Breyer

Mr. Greg Brown, Motorola, Schaumburg, IL

Mrs. Anna-Louise Brown

The Honorable Dr. Zbigniew Brezezinski, McLean, VA

Mrs. Emilie A. Brzezinski

The Honorable Kurt M. Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs

The Honorable Lael Brainard, Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs

The Honorable James E. Carter, former President of the United States

Mrs. Rosalynn Carter

Mr. Jackie Chan, Beverly Hills, CA

Mr. Phillip Button

The Honorable Elaine Chao, Washington, D.C.

Dr. James Chao

His Excellency Wang Chao, Vice Minister for Commerce

His Excellency Tung Chee Hwa, Vice Chairman, CPPCC, former Hong Kong Chief Executive

Mr. John A. Chen, Chairman, Committee of 100, New York, NY

Mrs. Sherrie Chen

The Honorable Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey, Trenton, NJ

Mrs. Mary Pat Christie

The Honorable Judy Chu, Representative from California

Ms. Chiling Tong

The Honorable Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy

Mrs. Jean Chu

The Honorable Hillary R. Clinton, Secretary of State

The Honorable William J. Clinton, former President of the United States

The Honorable James E. Clyburn, Representative from South Carolina

Mr. John Clyburn

The Honorable Richard Daley, Mayor of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Mrs. Maggie Daley

The Honorable William Daley, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff

Ms. Bernadette Keller

His Excellency Chen Deming, Minister of Commerce

Mr. Jamie Dimon, JP Morgan Chase & Co., New York, NY

Mrs. Judith Dimon

The Honorable Thomas Donilon, Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor

Ms. Cathy Russell, Chief of Staff to Dr. Jill Biden

The Honorable Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education

Mrs. Karen Duncan

Mr. James Fallows, The Atlantic, Washington, D.C.

Mrs. Deborah Fallows

Mr. Xie Feng, Director General, MFA

Mr. Thomas Friedman, The New York Times, Washington, D.C.

Mrs. Ann Friedman

The Honorable Michael B. Froman, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs

Ms. Nancy Goodman

His Excellency Wan Gang, Minister of Science and Technology

The Honorable Robert M. Gates, Secretary of Defense

Mrs. Becky Gates

The Honorable Timothy F. Geithner, Secretary of the Treasury

Mrs. Carole Geithner

Mr. Mark Gilbert, Boca Raton, FL

Mrs. Nancy Gilbert

The Honorable Chris Gregoire, Governor of Washington, Olympia, WA

Ms. Courtney Gregoire

His Excellency Zhu Guangyao, Vice Minister for Finance

His Excellency Zhang Guobao, Vice Minister for NDRC

Mr. Herbie Hancock, Los Angeles, CA

      Mrs. GiGi Hancock

The Honorable Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Science and Technology

The Honorable Robert Hormats, Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs

The Honorable Steny Hoyer, Representative from Maryland, Democratic WHIP

His Excellency Wang Huning, Director of the Policy Research Office of CCCPC

The Honorable Jon Huntsman, U.S. Ambassador to China

Mrs. Mary Kaye Huntsman

Mr. Robert Iger, The Walt Disney Company, Burbank, CA

Ms. Willow Bay

Mr. David Ignatius, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C.

Dr. Eve Ignatius

Mr. Jeff Immelt, General Electric, Fairfield, CT

Mrs. Andrea Immelt

The Honorable Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor and Assistant to the President for Intergovernmental Affairs and Public Engagement

His Excellency Li Jiaxiang, Vice Minister for Transportation

His Excellency Yang Jiechi, Minister of Foreign Affairs

His Excellency Ling Jihua, Director of the General Office of CCCPC

Mr. Robert Kagan, McLean, VA

Ms. Victoria Nuland

Mr. Michael Kempner, East Rutherford, NJ

Mrs. Jacqueline Kempner

Mr. Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola, Atlanta, GA

The Honorable John F. Kerry, Senator from Massachusetts

Mrs. Teresa Heinz Kerry

Mr. Robert King, UAW, Detroit, MI

Ms. Julie Kushner

The Honorable Ron Kirk, United States Trade Representative

Mrs. Matrice Ellis-Kirk

The Honorable Henry Kissinger, New York, NY

Mrs. Nancy Kissinger

Mr. Nicholas Kristof, The New York Times, Scarsdale, NY

Ms. Sheryl WuDunn

Ms. Ellen Kullman, DuPont, Wilmington, DE

Mr. Michael Kullman

Dr. Zhang Kunsheng, Director-General, Protocol Department

Ms. Michelle Kwan, Torrance, CA

Mr. Lang Lang, New York, NY

      Mrs. Zhou Xiulan

The Honorable Jacob Lew, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources

Ms. Maya Lin, New York, NY

Mr. Daniel Wolf

Ms. Limin Liu, Reno, NV

Dr. Hugh Shapiro

Mr. Andrew N. Liveris, The Dow Chemical Company, Midland, MI

Mrs. Paula Liveris

The Honorable Gary Locke, Secretary of Commerce

Mrs. Mona Locke

The Honorable Christopher Lu, Assistant to the President and Cabinet Secretary

Ms. Kathryn Thomson

The Honorable Richard Lugar, Senator from Indiana

Mrs. Charlene Lugar

Mr. Yo Yo Ma, Burbank, CA

Ms. Jill Hornor

The Honorable Capricia Marshall, Chief of Protocol, Department of State

Mr. W. James McNerney, The Boeing Company, Chicago, IL

Mrs. Haity McNerney

Mr. Evan Medeiros, Director for Asian Affairs, NSS

His Excellency Jiang Mianheng, Vice Chairman, CAS

Mr. Mel Monzack, Wilmington, DE

Mrs. Ann Monzack

Admiral Michael G. Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Mrs. Wendi Deng Murdoch, New York, NY

Mr. James Murren, Las Vegas, NV

      Mrs. Heather Murren

The Honorable Thomas Nides, Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources

Ms. Virginia Moseley

Mr. Paul Otellini, Intel, Santa Clara, CA

Mrs. Sandy Otellini

The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Representative from California, Democratic Leader

Mr. Paul Pelosi

His Excellency Zhang Ping, Minister of NDRC

The Honorable David Plouffe, Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor

Ms. Olivia Morgan

Mr. Tom Pritzker, Pritzker Organization, Chicago, IL

Mrs. Margot Pritzker

His Excellency Wang Qishan, Vice Premier of the State Council

Ms. Jean Quan, Mayor of Oakland, CA

The Honorable Edwin M. Lee, Mayor of San Francisco, CA

Ms. Azita Raji, JP Morgan Securities, Inc., Belvedere, CA

Mr. Gary Syman

The Honorable Ben Rhodes, Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting

Ms. Ann Norris

The Honorable Susan Rice, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, New York, NY

Mr. Ian Cameron

Mr. Robert Roche, Shanghai, CN

Mr. Kenneth Roth, The Human Rights Watch, Washington, D.C.

Ms. Annie Sparrow

The Honorable Pete Rouse, Counselor to the President

Ms. Courtney Chapin

Mr. David M. Rubenstein, The Carlyle Group, Washington, D.C.

Mrs. Alice Rubenstein

Mr. Kirk Rudy, Austin, TX

Mrs. Amy Rudy

The Honorable Brent Scowcroft, The Forum for International Policy, Washington, D.C.

The Honorable Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services

The Honorable Gary Sebelius

The Honorable Susan Sher, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to the First Lady

The Honorable Neil Cohen

Mr. Robert Sherman, Boston, MA

Ms. Kim S. Sawyer

His Excellency Chen Shiju, Chief of the President’s Office

The Honorable George Shultz, Stanford, CA

Mrs. Charlotte Shultz

Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong, Culver City, CA

The Honorable Phil Gordon, Mayor of Phoenix, Phoenix, AZ

The Honorable Gene Sperling, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy & Director of the National Economic Council

Ms. Allison Abner

The Honorable Jim Steinberg, Deputy Secretary of State

Ms. Sherburne B. Abbott

Ms. Barbra Streisand, Malibu, CA

Mr. James Brolin

The Honorable Tina Tchen, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement

Mr. John Thornton, The Brookings Institution, HSBC North America, Palm Beach, FL

Mrs. Margaret Thornton

His Excellency Cui Tiankai, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs

Dr. Stanley Toy, Jr., Pasadena, CA

Ms. Lana Toy

Mr. Luis Ubinas, The Ford Foundation, New York, NY

Dr. Deborah Tolman

Mr. Jose Villarreal, Commissioner General, Shanghai Expo, San Antonio, TX

Ms. Sara Villarreal

Ms. Vera Wang, New York, NY

Mr. Arthur Becker

Mr. Steve Westly, Menlo Park, CA

Ms. Anita Yu

Ms. Anna Wintour, Vogue Magazine, New York, NY

Mr. Shelby Bryan

Ms. Patricia A. Woertz, Archer Daniels Midland, Decatur, IL

Mr. Kelvin R. Westbrook

Mr. B.D. Wong, New York, NY

Mrs. Roberta Wong

Mr. Charles Woo, Mega Toys, Los Angeles, CA

Mrs. Ying Woo

The Honorable David Wu, Representative from Oregon

Ms. Anna Kopperud

His Excellency Xie Xuren, Minister of Finance

His Excellency Zhang Yesui, Chinese Ambassador to the United States

Madam Chen Naiqing

His Excellency Sun Yibiao, Vice Minister for Customs

5:02 p.m.-- Aamer reports: More than 50 percent of the private conversations between Hu and Obama administration officials today focused on economic issues, according to a senior administration official. Most of the discussion at Hu’s dinner on Tuesday evening with Obama centered on security issues, such as North Korea and Iran’s nuclear programs.

4:35 p.m.-- From Aamer over at the White House: The theme of tonight’s entertainment is an evening of jazz. The performers include trumpeter Chris Botti, vocalists Dee Dee Bridgewater and Dianne Reeves, jazz icon Herbie Hancock, and up-and-comer Lang Lang.

The White House says they’ll release the names of 225 invited guests within the hour. The State Dining Room is too small, so tables have also been added to the Red and Blue rooms, officials say.

4:33 p.m.-- Currency and airplanes weren’t the only topics where the U.S. and China reached agreements today. The Washington Post reports that the National Zoo has also reached an agreement with the Chinese government to extend the stay of the zoo’s pandas for five more years at a reduced cost.

From the Post:

“For the last six weeks the two giant pandas, Tian Tian, a male, and Mei Xiang, a female, have been on a temporary lease extension while Chinese and American officials fine-tuned a new deal.

Zoo director Dennis W. Kelly traveled to China Dec. 12 to present to Chinese experts a new scientific plan to study panda cub behavior, and to work on the new agreement.

The old $1 million-a year, 10-year lease expired Dec. 6.

Giant pandas are native to China, and the Chinese own and lease all giant pandas in American zoos. They are wildly popular among Washington zoo-goers.

Mei Xiang, 12, and Tian Tian, 13 — both born at the China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda in Wolong, Sichuan Province — arrived in Washington Dec. 6, 2000 amid international fanfare, a police escort, and the hope that they would produce many cubs.

But giant panda reproduction is notoriously complex and mysterious, and in recent years zoo experts have tried in vain — with natural and artificial methods — to get Mei Xiang pregnant.

Her only offspring, Tai Shan, a male, was born via artificial insemination on July 9, 2005.

He was sent to China, according to prior agreement, last Feb. 4 to join a breeding program.”

4:19 p.m.-- We have more details from the pool report about the lunch at the State Department. Some new highlights:

The Vice President acknowledged that he had received an invite from China’s Vice President Xi Jinping to visit Beijing this summer, and asked President Hu, "Please tell them I accept." He recalled a Newsweek magazine cover from 1979, which called the first ever diplomatic visit by a Chinese delegation to the US that year, "a turning point in the affairs of the modern world." He also called the bilateral relationship between the US and China "as important as any in the world." Biden said that while the countries have differences on issues such as human rights, the countries must work together to solve global challenges, and called today's meetings "straight forward and collegial."

The seating at the rectangular head table (counter clockwise): Vice President Biden, President Hu, Henry Kissinger, Barbra Streisand, CEO of Johnson & Johnson William Weldon, Sen. John Kerry, Nancy Yao Maasbach of Yale University, CEO of Proctor & Gamble Robert McDonald, designer Vera Wang, Minister Yang, Secretary Clinton, State Counselor Dai, CEO of UPS Scott Davis, President of the Rockefeller Foundation and former University of Pennsylvania president Judith Rodin, Sen. Richard Lugar, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, Dr. Jill Biden and Vice Premier Wang.

Decor: A mix of circular and rectangular tables dressed with floral, satin cranberry, kelly green and turquoise table clothes. The tables included centerpieces featuring Peones and sweet pea flowers and orchids. The plum blossom, recognized as a Chinese symbol of winter, was highlighted throughout the luncheon decor. Menu cards incorporated the ancient Chinese art of paper cutting; each menu is individually enveloped with an intricately cut paper design.

Yo-Yo Ma and Joshua Roman, a 27-year-old critically acclaimed cellist, performed three pieces: Dona Nobis Pacem (Traditional), Summer in the High Grassland (Zhao Jiping) and Allegro Prestissimo from Sonata No. 10 in G Major (Jean-Baptiste Barriere).

Approximately 260 guests attended the lunch, including foreign policy leaders, business leaders, cultural and media figures and administration/congressional officials.

Also spotted in the crowd: Secretary Gates, Secretary Napolitano, AG Eric Holder, Secretary Locke, Secretary Chu, Secretary Vilsack, Colin Powell, Madeleine Albright,  NBC's Ann Curry, James Brolin, figure skater Michelle Kwan, Terry McAuliffe, Quincy Jones, Kal Penn, Valerie Jarrett, Susan Sher, Tina Tchen, and Courtney O'Donnell.

After the lunch ended, per a White House aide: VPOTUS, President Hu, Dr. Biden, Secretary Clinton and Secretary Vilsack left to view a model of the China Garden to be built on 12 acres of the National Arboretum.

And, most importantly: Dr. Jill Biden was wearing Susana Monaco, an aide says.

Special thanks to vice presidential pooler Amie Parnes from POLITICO for the details.

4:13 p.m.-- More details from Aamer on the guest list: Chicago mayor Richard Daley and wife, Maggie Daley, will be attending. Naturally, Daley's brother, Chief of Staff Bill Daley, will be there as well.

4:06 p.m.-- Aamer got details on the menu for tonight's dinner:

First course: D'Anjou pear salad with farmstead goat cheese, fennel, black walnuts and white balsamic

Poached Maine lobster served with orange glazed carrots and black trumpet mushrooms

Served with a Dumol Chardonnay, ‘Russian River,’ 2009

Intermezze: Lemon sorbet

Main course: Dry aged ribeye with buttermilk crisped onions, served with double-stuffed potatoes and creamed spinach

Served with a Luilceda Creek Cabernet, Columbia Valley, 2005

Dessert: Apple pie served with vanilla ice cream

3:53 p.m.-- Make sure to check out NJ's Matt Cooper with an analysis of the press conference.

3:48 p.m.-- Sara Sorcher has more details - including the menu! - from Hu's lunch at the State Department.

The menu:

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Timbale of Pear and Sunchoke
Sage Toasts


Fillet of Alaskan Cod
Horseradish Dijon Crème Fraiche
Lemon-Scented Rice

Winter Vegetable Medley


Gilded Chocolate and Plum Delight
Balsamic Ice Cream

And more details from State:

Luncheon invitees represent the strong and diverse ties between our two countries. From government officials like former Secretaries of State Kissinger, Shultz, Powell and Albright, to cultural figures like Amy Tan, Vera Wang, chef Ming Tsai, figure skater Michelle Kwan, and the first Chinese-American football player in the NFL Ed Wang .

After dessert has been served, renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma and Joshua Roman, a young critically acclaimed cellist, will perform three pieces from Western and Chinese composers.

The design and décor of the Department of State luncheon celebrates the season of winter by incorporating traditional Chinese symbols with American culture. The plum blossom, recognized as a symbol of winter, will be highlighted throughout the luncheon. Silk table linens adorned with fabric plum blossoms and plums will be displayed on the tables. Floral arrangements consist of a mixture of green hydrangea, lavender sweet pea and peonies, as a tribute to the traditional Chinese floral symbol. The luncheon menu includes seasonal and local American ingredients and features a delicious chocolate and plum dessert. Menu cards will incorporate the ancient Chinese art of paper cutting; each menu will be individually enveloped with an intricately cut paper design. The design features the plum and plum blossom, to again celebrate the season of winter, as well as the eagle, which symbolizes strength and courage in American culture."

3:46 p.m.-- Aamer checked with Ben Chang, National Security Council deputy spokesman, about the disjointed translation. "The consecutive interpretation at the press conference was the preference of the Chinese delegation.  The question from the Associated Press was interpreted for President Hu, as were the other questions," Chang said. He was referring to AP reporter Ben Feller's question about human rights that Jintao did not answer after it was asked.

3:36 p.m.-- The reporter from the Xinhua news agency wasn't the only one who was irked by translation problems at today's press conference. Listen to what Rush Limbaugh had to say about it:

3:27 p.m.-- This just in from NJ's Sara Sorcher about the lunch at the state department:Secretary Clinton, Vice President Biden and Dr. Jill Biden co-host a State Luncheon for Hu at the Department of State. The lunch was scheduled to begin at 2:30 but was likely delayed a few minutes because the press conference ran until about 2:35. Biden gives brief remarks and made a toast “to many more generations of friendship and peace.” Everyone clinked glasses.

Around 2:55: Hu gave his speech: “China-U.S. relations have traveled an extraordinary path,” he said. In contrast to the history of sporadic meetings between U.S. and Chinese leaders in the past, Hu said that in just the last two years he and Obama have met eight times. He toasted to the health of Vice President and Drs. Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the “friendship between our two peoples.”

At 3:08, Biden said, “Now we get to eat!”

And Clinton: “I think so!”

3:12 p.m.-- By now, President Hu should have moved on to a lunch over at the State Department with Secretary of State Clinton and Joe and Jill Biden (we hear designer Vera Wang is also in attendance).

2:47 p.m.-- A Chinese reporter from the Xinhua news agency got a bit snippy when he said that problems from the translation booths had gotten in the way of his question. He asked for it to be repeated “correctly and accurately.” His questions (the last of the presser):

For President Obama: “Many people believe that the biggest problem in this relationship is the lack of strategic neutral trust. Do you agree with this view, and how do you the two sides should handle this mutual trust and how do you think the two sides should appropriately manage their differences and expand their common interests?”

And for President Hu: “We noted the both the Chinese and American leaders have on various occasions stressed the fact that the influence and significance of the China-U.S. relationship have gone far beyond the bilateral dimension. China and the United States share broad common interests and shoulder important common responsibilities in addressing a variety of regional and global issues. So my question is, how do you think that China and the United States can step up their cooperation in the joint endeavor to tackle the increasing number of global issues?”

Obama: “Certainly the more we can build a baseline of trust as you called it strategic mutual trust, the more likely we are able to solve the friction or irritants that exist in a relationship between any two countries in a more constructive way. Which I why I think it's so important that not only governments, but people in both countries understand the challenges that each country faces, and not view every issue through the lens of rivalry. For example, I know in China many believe that somehow the United States is interested in containing China' rise. As I indicated in answer to a previous questioner, we welcome China's rise. We want to make sure that rise is done -- that rise occurs in a way that reinforces international norms and international rules, and enhances security and peace as opposed to it being a source of conflict either in the region or around the world. And these security and economic dialogues we established are precisely designed to lighten suspicions, to enhance mutual understanding. The more we understand each other's challenges, the more we can take advantage of opportunities.”

And Hu: “The question said that in today's world mankind faces more and more global challenges. By would like to stress here no country can remain unscathed in the face of so many challenges, and no country can single handedly tackle global challenges. For example: in the field of fighting terrorism, upholding the security of humanity, or in tackling the international financial crisis, promoting the growth of the world economy, in addressing regional hotspots, fighting transnational crimes. Fighting piracy and preventing and treating communicable diseases. In all these areas countries need to work together to meet the challenge. China is the biggest developing country, and the U.S. the biggest developed country. In this context it is necessary for China and the United States to strengthen their cooperation to meet such challenges. How can China and the U.S. do a better job in working together to meet global challenges? I think there are three points i would like to make, and these three points deserve our serious attention and consideration. Number one: that our two sides have acted in the spirit of cooperation, as if we were in the same boat and we should row in the same direction. When we tackled international challenges, and we need to keep up this in the future. Number two, we need to increase our communication and coordination. And number three we need to respect and accommodate each other's interests and concerns. I'm convinced that as long as our two sides continue to act in this spirit and as long as we continue to work together with other countries concerned, we will be able to engage in cooperation in an even broader range of areas to the benefit of world peace and development.”

And that's it for the hour-plus presser.

2:33 p.m.-- In addition to asking Hu to answer the human rights question, Bloomberg's reporter asked the following of Obama: "You've just spoken about the importance of exports, your own goal of doubling exports. At the same time, you said there needs to be further adjustment in the exchange rate and the RMD is undervalued. To what extent does China's depressing of its currency affect your ability to grow jobs in this country and lower the unemployment rate?"

Obama's response: "Well, I think that it is important for us to look at the entire economic relationship and the currency issue is one part of it. The first time I met President Hu was in April of 2009. And this was the first G-20 summit that I attended when we were in the midst of the worst financial crisis that we had experienced since the 1930s. And even as we were trying to stabilize the financial system, what was absolutely clear was that we couldn't go back to a system in which the United States was borrowing massively, consuming massively, but not producing and selling to the rest of the world, creating these huge balances that helped contribute to the crisis. And that's why we pushed and why the G-20 adopted a framework that called for rebalancing the world economy.

"Now, that gives us some responsibilities. We've got to save more in this country. We've got to cut back on these huge levels of debt both in the private sector, but also in the public sector. It also means that there's structural reforms that we have to undergo to make ourselves more competitive in the world economy, so making sure that we have the best education system in the world, that we're producing more engineers than lawyers, making sure that we have a handle on our fiscal problems, making sure that we've got a world class infrastructure. Those are all important parts of us being competitive and being able to export.

"It does also mean, though, that we have a level playing field when it comes to our trading partners. And so with respect to China, what President Hu and myself and our delegations have discussed is, how do we make sure that, in fact, our trading relationship is fair and a win-win situation as opposed to a win-lose situation? Some of that has to do with issues completely unrelated to currency. For example, we're making progress on making sure that the government procurement process in china is open and fair to American businesses. And we've made progress as a consequence of this state visit. Some of it has to do with intellectual property protection. So we were just in a meeting with business leaders and Steve Ballmer of Microsoft pointed out that their estimate is that only one customer in every ten of their products is actually paying for it in China. And so, can we get better enforcement since that is an area where America excels intellectual property and high value added products and services.

"And the Chinese government has, to its credit, taken steps to better enforce intellectual property. We've got further agreement as a consequence of this state visit, and I think President Hu would acknowledge that more needs to be done. But the currency issue is a part of the problem, the RMB is undervalued. The Chinese government has intervened very forcefully in the currency markets. They've spent $200 billion just recently, and that's an indication of the degree to which it's still undervalued. President Hu has indicated he's committed towards moving towards a market-based system and there has been movement, but it's not as fast as we want. And what I've said to President Hu and I firmly believe this is, not only will you – U.S. businesses be able to export more to China if we have a market-based currency, but it will also be good for China and President Hu's agenda of expanding domestic demand because if the RMB is worth more, that means they can buy more products and services, and that will contribute to China having greater purchasing power and a higher standard of living. So this is something that can be a win-win. President Hu's concern understandably about how rapid this transition takes and the disruptions that may occur in its export sector, but I'm confident that it's the right thing to do, and my hope and expectation is that President Hu's resolve will lead to a fully market-based currency program that will allow more effective trade between our two countries."

2:26 p.m.-- Missed a question while updating our readers on Hu's response to the human rights question. Here it was:

First question from a Chinese journalist. To Hu: “What do you think that the two countries need to do to further increase the friendship and mutual understanding between the Chinese and American peoples?” And to Obama: “Deep in your heart do you really think that you can live comfortably with a constantly-growing China?”

Hu says: “Ever since the establishment of diplomatic relationships between our two countries we have seen robust exchanges. In such exchanges also helped the steady growth of our relationship. The statistics I have show that each year we have about 3 million people traveling between our two countries. In other words, every single day 7,000 to 8,000 people traveling between the United States and China. In addition, we have seen very broad-ranging development of these changes at a national level. So far our two countries have established sister relationships between 36 provinces and states, and we have developed 161 pairs of sister cities between our two countries. The Chinese government is supportive of the friendly exchanges between our two peoples. We have been creating conditions to expand the friendly exchanges between the American and Chinese peoples. During this visit president Obama and I reached an agreement that both sides will take positive steps to further increase the people-to-people exchanges. On the one hand we'll encourage young people in our two countries to go to each other's countries to learn more about each other, and at the same time, we have also decided to put in place a dialogue and exchange mechanisms between Chinese and American provinces and states. Besides, we are also going to further expand exchanges and develop tourism. We'll increase people-to-people exchanges. It is extremely important to increase the exchanges between the young people in our two countries through such exchanges I hope that our friendship can be furthered. And I hope they in the future can serve us as ambassadors of goodwill for our two countries and they can make even more positive contribution to the development of a cooperative. I based on mutual respect and mutual benefit.

Obama says: "Let me respond briefly to your question. I absolutely believe that China's peaceful rise is good for the world, for humanitarian reasons. The United States has an interest in seeing hundreds of millions of people lifted out of poverty. We believe part of justice and human rights is people being able to make a living and having enough to eat, and having shelter. And having electricity. And the development of China has brought unprecedented economic growth to more people more quickly than just about any time in history. And that's a positive good for the world and it's something the United States very much appreciates and respects. We also think China's rise gives enormous economic opportunities. We want to sell you all kinds of stuff. We want to sell you planes, cars, we want to sell you software. And as President Hu and his government refocuses the economy on expanding domestic demand, that offers opportunities for businesses which ultimately translates into U.S. jobs. It also means as China's standards of living rise, they have more purchasing power. It's something we have to remind ourselves is the United States economy is three times larger than China's, despite having one quarter of the population. The per capita income is different between the two countries. As China’s per capita income rises that offers an opportunity for increased trade and commercial ties that benefit both countries. China's rise is potentially good for the world. that china is functioning as a responsible actor on the world stage, to the extents we have a partner insuring weapons of mass destruction don't fall into the hands of terrorists or rogue states, to the extents we have a partner in dealing with regional hotpots, to the extent we have a northern addressing issues like climate change or pandemic, to the extent we have a partner helping poorer countries in Asia or Africa further develop so they, too, can be part of the world economy is something that can help create stability and order and prosperity around the world and that's the kind of partnership we would like to see. And it's more likely to come if China feels secure and itself is doing well economically. They are more likely to be an effective partner with us on the world stage."

2:16 p.m.-- Finally we get an answer from Hu on the human rights question. He says:

"China is always committed to the protection and promotion of human rights. China has also made enormous progress recognized widely in the world. China recognizes and respects human rights, and at the same time we do believe that we also need to take into account the different national circumstances when it comes to the universal value of human rights. China is a developing country with a huge population and also a developing country in a crucial stage of reform. In context china faces challenges in social development and a lot has to be done in china in regards to human rights. We'll continue our efforts to improve the lives of the Chinese people and continue our efforts to promote democracy and the rule of law in our country. And we'll have exchanges and dialogue with other countries in terms of human rights and we are also willing to learn from each other in terms of the good practices. “As President Obama rightly put it just now, though already disagreements between China and the United States on the issue of human rights, China is willing to engage in dialogue on the basis of mutual respect and the principle of non-interference in each other's internal affairs. This way we'll increase our mutual understanding, reduce our disagreements, and expand our common ground.”

Note the end of his answer: "China is willing to engage in dialogue on the basis of mutual respect and the principle of non-interference in each other's internal affairs." That's seen as the more diplomatic way to say, "back off."

2:07 p.m. -- Bloomberg's Hans Nichols may have saved the day. He asks Hu to respond to the human rights question, and also poses a quick question about Congressional l

12:48 p.m.-- Meeting with business leaders is flying by. Obama and Hu expected at a press conference in the East Room around 1 p.m. It'll be quick - follow questions total. Follow @NJAamer and @nationaljournal for Twitter updates during the presser.

12:15 p.m.-- President Obama and President Hu will sit down with U.S. and Chinese business leaders momentarily. Obama will focus on the importance of increasing exports to China and increasing Chinese investment in the U.S. (The White House has already announced $45 billion that the Chinese have inked $45 in new business deals.) Among the administration officials slated to attend: Treasury Secretary Timoth Geithner and Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, Chief of Staff Bill Daley, Ambassador Ron Kirk, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling, Deputy National Security Advisor for International Economic Affairs Mike Froman and Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett. And the business leaders:

  • Steve Ballmer, Microsoft
  • Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs
  • Greg Brown, Motorola
  • Aris Candris, Westinghouse Electric
  • John Chen, Sybase
  • Jeff Immelt, General Electric
  • Muhtar Kent, Coca-Cola
  • Ellen Kullman, Dupont
  • Andrew Liveris, Dow Chemical
  • Jim McNerney, Boeing
  • Paul Otellini, Intel
  • David Rubenstein, Carlyle Group
  • John Thornton, HSBC
  • Greg Page, Cargill

Chinese business leaders:

  • Liu Chuanzhi, Lenovo
  • Lou Jiwei, China Investment Corp.
  • Lu Guanqiu, Wanxiang Group
  • Zhang Ruimin, Haier

12:03 p.m. -- Wondering how the U.S. and China handle security for the state visit? Read the story by NJ's Marc Ambinder.

11:48 a.m. -- After the state arrival ceremony this morning, Michelle Obama went over to Howard University to speak to a group of high school and college students about the benefits of studying abroad. She touted the president's “100,000 Strong” initiative,announced in 2009, which was designed to increase the number and diversification of American students studying in China in order to train the next generation of American experts on the country. She also announced that China offers scholarships to 10,000 U.S. students to cover in-country costs for students who study there, says CBS Radio's Mark Knoller.

11:21 a.m. -- As I noted earlier today, President Hu spoke through a translator at this morning's ceremony. Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer tells us via Twitter that former Chinese President Jiang Zemin also spoke no English during his 2002 visit with President Bush - until he said "End of news conference" in perfect English when a press conference was over but reporters were still shouting questions at him. That was after four questions. Today's press conference will also be short, with only two questions for each president.

11:18 a.m. -- Admiral Mike Mullen's wife, Deobrah, fainted during the arrival ceremony this morning. She's doing fine, reporters were told.

10:45 a.m. -- Aamer has more on the Boeing deal from a senior administration official: In preparation for President Hu’s visit, several large purchases have been approved including for 200 Boeing airplanes valued at $19 billion. In addition, the Chinese government has indicated that its companies signed 70 contracts for $25 billion in U.S. exports from 12 states. These included sectors ranging from auto parts to agriculture, machinery to chemicals. In addition, 11 investment contracts were signed worth $3.24 billion. Additional, transactions were announced or showcased, exceeding $13.1 billion in total value with approximately $987.8 million in U.S. export content.These deals worth over $45 billion in increased exports will help support an estimated 235,000 jobs in the United States.

10:38 a.m. -- Aamer reports: China will announce later today to purchase 200 Boeing aircraft, a deal worth about $19 billion, an administration official confirms.

10:26 a.m. -- Some more details are coming in from the State Department about Hu's afternoon plans following his lunch there. He'll spend the afternoon at the State Department. At 3:50 p.m., Secretary Clinton, Vice President Biden and Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack will show President Hu a model of the proposed China Garden in the National Arboretum. Then, at 4:05 p.m., Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi sign a memorandum of understanding establishing the U.S.-China Governors Forum.

10:07 a.m. -- An administration official tells Aamer that fashion designer Vera Wang will attend a luncheon for Hu this afternoon at the State Department. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be there as well as Vice President Biden and his wife.

9:55 a.m. -- From Aamer Madhani: President Obama and China President Hu Jintao will announce later today that they have come to agreement on boosting cooperation on nuclear security, an administration official confirms.

The agreement calls for creating a jointly financed nuclear security center in China, which would foster improved security at nuclear sites and help better track of nuclear materials. The official told National Journal that the deal will be announced at this afternoon’s joint news conference

President Obama and China President Hu Jintao will announce later today that they have come to agreement on boosting cooperation on nuclear security, an administration official confirms.

The agreement calls for creating a jointly financed nuclear security center in China, which would foster improved security at nuclear sites and help better track of nuclear materials. The official told National Journal that the deal will be announced at this afternoon’s joint news conference.

9:45 a.m. -- Presidents Obama and Hu return to the White House through the South Portico. They'll have some coffee and then move into bilateral talks. The first hour will just be Obama, Hu and Vice President Biden. They will later be joined by the entire U.S. and Chinese delgations.

9:43 a.m. -- This in from Aamer Madhani, NJ's White House correspondent: Among the hundreds of students gathered for today's ceremony is Sasha Obama. She stood with other children behind a rope line and waved a small Chinese flag as the military bands played. As President Obama and Hu Jintao walked the rope line, they stopped momentarily to chat with Sasha and other students. Hu shook her hand.

Aamer will be at the White House all day covering the visit of the Chinese president. For live updates from the scene, follow him on Twitter @NJAamer.

9:40 a.m.-- Note the themes in Hu's speech: he says the U.S.-China partnership should be based on mutual respect, mutual benefit, joint efforts to meet challenges, and extensive involvement of people. In calling for mutual respect, he subtly pushes back against Obama's words on human rights and calls for the U.S. to "respect each other's chocie of development path and each other's core interests." He will be working hard to assert the Chinese point of view during this visit.

9:30 a.m. -- Hu continues: "I have come to the United States to increase mutual trust, enhance friendship, deepen cooperation and push forward the positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship for the 21st century."

"Over the past 32 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties, the China – U.S. relationship has grown into one with strategic significance and global influence. Since President Obama took office with concerted efforts of the two sides, our cooperation in various fields has produced fruitful results and our relations have achieved new progress. This has brought a real benefit to our two peoples and contributed greatly to world peace and the development.

"As we enter the second decade of the 21st century, the people of both China and the United States want to see further progress in our relations and people around the globe want to see greater prosperity in the world. Under the new circumstances and in the face of new challenges, China and the United States share broad, common interests and important common responsibilities. We should adopt a long-term perspective, seek common ground while reserving differences and work together to achieve sustain, sound and steady development of our relations. I hope that through this visit our two countries will advance the positive, cooperative and comprehensive relationship and open a new chapter in our cooperation as partners.

"Our cooperation as partners should be based on mutual respect. We live in an increasingly diverse and colorful world. China and the United States should respect each other's choice of development path and each other's core interests. We should deepen mutual understanding through communication, increase mutual trust through dialogue and expand common ground through exchanges.

"Our cooperation as partners should be based on mutual benefit. China's future and destiny are increasingly tied to those of the world. Relations have become closer. Our two countries should seek to learn from each other through exchanges and achieve win-win progress through cooperation. This is the right approach for us to develop our relations.

"Our cooperation as partners should be based on joint efforts to meet challenges. China and the United States should step up communication and coordination in international affairs, work together to counter the global challenges and make a greater contribution to world peace and the development.

"Our cooperation as partners should be based on the extensive involvement of the people. The Chinese and American people cherish deep friendship towards each other and they fought side by side at defining moments in history when the future and the destiny of mankind were at stake. The two peoples should expand exchanges and enhance friendship. This will offer an inexhaustible driving force for the growth of our relations.

"Ladies and gentlemen, our world today is undergoing major development, major changes and major adjustments to pursue peace, development and cooperation is the irresistible trend of our time. Let us seize the opportunity to forge ahead, hand in hand, and work together to enhance cooperation as partners, and let us work with all other countries to build a harmonious world of lasting peace and common prosperity. Thank you once again, Mr. President, for your warm welcome."

9:28 a.m. -- Hu takes the podium. Through a translator, he says: "It gives me great pleasure to come to Washington and pay a state visit to the United States at the beginning of the new year at the invitation of President Obama. At this pointi n time, let me extend on behalf of the 1.3 billion chinese people the sincere greetings and best wishes to the people of the United States."

9:26 a.m. -- Obama continues: "The United States welcomes China's rise as a strong, prosperous and successful member of the community of nations. Indeed China's success has brought with it economic benefits for our people as well as yours and the cooperation on a range of issues has helped advance stability in the Asia pacific and in the world. We also know this. History shows that societies are more harmonious, nations are more successful and the world is more just when the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld, including the universal rights of every human being. President Hu, we can learn from our people. Chinese and American students and educators, business people, tourists, researchers and scientists, including Chinese Americans who are here today, they work together and make progress together every single day. They know that even as our nations compete in some areas, we can cooperate in so many others in a spirit of mutual respect for our mutual benefit."

Note the gentle push from Obama on the issue of human rights, a topic that many hope will come up during Hu's state visit.

9:25 a.m. -- Obama welcomes Hu to the White House and the United States on behalf of the American people. "Three decades ago on a January day like this another American president stood here and welcomed another Chinese leader for the historic normazliation of relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China," Obama says, referring to the 1979 visit of Deng Xioping and Jimmy Carter. "Looking back on that wniter day in 1979, it is now clear, the previous 30 years had been a time of estrangement of our two countries. the 30 years since have been at ime of growing exchanges and understanding. Wtih this visit, we can lay a foundation for the next 30 years....This visit is also a chance to demonstrate a simple truth: we have an enormous stake in each other's success."

9:15 a.m. -- The two presidents are greeting onlookers on the White House line after hearing both nation's national anthems. On the other side of the White House, there are protests by Tibetans, human rights organizations, and the Vietnamese community of Washington D.C.

9:12 a.m. -- Ahead of the arrival and tonight's state dinner, Rep. Thaddeus McCotter, R-Mich., tweeted: Tonight, America’s Nobel Peace Prize winner fetes the communist imprisoning China’s Nobel Peace Prize winner.''

9:02 a.m. -- To a drum roll, a black limo pulls up to the White House. Inside Chinese President Hu Jintao steps out, and shakes President Obama and Michelle Obama's hands.







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