Obama Chides China's Xi Over Syria Vote

Visiting vice-president told of US disappointment over his country's decision to join Russia in UN veto.

Visiting vice-president told of US disappointment over his country's decision to join Russia in UN veto.

Visiting Chinese leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping has been chided by US President Barack Obama over his country's decision to join Russia in a veto of a UN Security Council resolution against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Obama's firm message on Tuesday to the Chinese vice-president on trade, currency, human rights and global issues such as Syria was notable, given that meetings during the trip were previewed as essentially sizing-up sessions.

Xi has, however, won an extraordinary welcome across Washington in a finely scripted opening to one of the world's most important relationships.

He got a lengthy audience with Obama, an elaborate reception at the State Department, full military honours at the Pentagon, a gathering with chief business executives and a dinner at Vice President Joe Biden's house.

While referring to trade and currency tensions between the two countries, Xi was also told by Obama that everyone must observe global economic "rules of the road".

Obama also said the US intended to remain an important power in the Asia-Pacific region despite China's rise.

He said China's "extraordinary development over the last two decades" brought expanding power and prosperity but also "increased responsibilities" for China.

"We want to work with China to make sure that everybody is working by the same rules of the road when it comes to the world economic system," Obama said as Xi sat by his side before their Oval Office talks.

"That includes insuring that there is a balanced trading flow not only between the United States and China but around the world," Obama said.

He also said that on critical issues like human rights, the US would "continue to emphasise what we believe is the importance of realising the aspirations and rights of all people".

'More bright spots'

"We should tap our co-operation potential, create more bright spots in our co-operation and strive for greater balance in trade and investment between the two countries," Xi said after talks with Obama.

"We should address each other's economic and trade concerns through dialogue and consultation, not protectionism, and uphold the mutually  beneficial pattern of China-US economic relations and trade," Xi said.

Xi earlier held talks at the White House with Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state.

He was also due to meet meet business leaders and tour Iowa and California on his week-long trip.

Xi's visit was part of the US administration's efforts to reach out to the 58-year-old leader, who is on course to replace Hu Jintao as China's communist party chief and later as president.

Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher, reporting from Washington DC, said that there was a lot on the table for the White House meeting.

"They're talking about the economy - it's always important, almost overrides many things in many people's eyes - certainly China wants access to the US markets, the US wants to double its exports," our correspondent said.

He said that the two countries would discuss "international security and co-operation".

"The Chinese are worried about America becoming a much stronger presence in the Pacific ... but Barack Obama has been praising the Chinese, saying that it's important that it's acknowledged that they have become a world power through peaceful means."

Clampdown on dissent

Human rights is always a sensitive Sino-US issue, and there is growing concern over China's clampdown on dissent.

 Xi defended his country's human rights record at a State Department lunch but admitted that there was "room for improvement".

Xi said he had a "candid exchange" regarding human rights with his US counterpart and Hillary Clinton.

"I stressed that China has made tremendous and well-recognised achievements in the field of human rights over the past 30-plus years, since reform and opening up," he said.

Noting that there was a "free Tibet" protest outside the White House during Tuesday's visit by Xi, Al Jazeera's Fisher said it was unclear whether he would differ from China's current leadership on any of the key issues.

"It's only when he's in the top job will you get an idea of what sort of direction he wants to take China," our correspondent said.

He said that, at the moment, Xi's reputation was that of a leader who would "toe the line".