Amid strains, Obama puts bright face on China ties

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Amid strains, Obama puts bright face on China ties
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, passes by US President Barack Obama at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Beijing. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Presidential Press Service)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, passes by US President Barack Obama, left, as Chinese President Xi Jinping smiles, at right, at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Beijing. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Presidential Press Service)
Leaders pose for a group photo at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the International Convention Center in Yanqi Lake, Beijing, on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. Among those pictured are, left to right: Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah; Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neil; Indonesia's President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo; Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; U.S. President Barack Obama; Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott; Chinese President Xi Jinping; Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak; Russian President Vladimir Putin; New Zealand Prime Minister John Key. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and U.S. President Barack Obama talk on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Beijing. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Presidential Press Service)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and U.S. President Barack Obama, center, talk on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Beijing. (AP Photo/RIA Novosti, Presidential Press Service)
Leaders pose for a group photo at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the International Convention Center in Yanqi Lake, Beijing, on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. Among those pictured are: Peru's President Ollanta Humala; Chairman of the Taiwan-based Cross-Strait Common Market Foundation Vincent Siew; South Korean President Park Geun-hye; Thai Prime Minister Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha; Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah; Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O'Neil; Indonesia's President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo; Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; U.S. President Barack Obama; Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott; Chinese President Xi Jinpeng; Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak; Russian President Vladimir Putin; New Zealand Prime Minister John Key; Philippine President Benigno Aquino III; Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong; Chilean President Michelle Bachelet; Hong Kong Chief Executie Leung Chun-ying; Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto; Vietnam's President Truong Tan Sang. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, arrive together as other state leaders waited for them to take a group photo for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the International Convention Center in Yanqi Lake, Beijing, China, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, gestures towards Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, after taking a group photo for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the International Convention Center in Yanqi Lake, Beijing, China, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, Chinese President Xi Jinping, center, and U.S. President Barack Obama are seen arriving at the the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit plenary session at the International Convention Center, Yanqi, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Beijing. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)
U.S. President Barack Obama, left, Russian President Vladimir Putin, second left, and Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, are seen arriving at the the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit plenary session at the International Convention Center, Yanqi, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Beijing. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, looks back at U.S. President Barack Obama, left, as they arrive with Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, at the the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit plenary session at the International Convention Center, Yanqi, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Beijing. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)
From left to right, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping, U.S. President Barack Obama and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, popularly known as "Jokowi", arrive at the the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit plenary session at the International Convention Center, Yanqi, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014 in Beijing, China. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Pool)
US President Barack Obama, (L), Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, (2L), Russia's President Vladimir Putin (2R) and Lee's wife Ho Ching take their positions for the APEC family photo at the Beijing National Aquatics Center in Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, walks past U.S. President Barack Obama, right, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit family photo, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 in Beijing. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
U.S. President Barack Obama, second left and Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, arrive together as other state leaders waited for them to take a group photo for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the International Convention Center in Yanqi Lake, Beijing, China, Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: Chinese President Xi Jinping's wife Peng Liyuan (R) looks at Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) and U.S. President Barack Obama (L) before a fireworks show after the Welcome Banquet for 2014 APEC leaders at the National Aquatics Center, known as the Water Cube, on November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The 22nd APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting will hold on November 11, 2014 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) is greeted by Chinese President Xi Jinping (C) and his wife Peng Liyuan as he arrives for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit banquet at the National Aquatics Center in the Chinese capital Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) stands with Chinese President Xi Jinping as they pose for a photo as he arrives for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit banquet at the National Aquatics Center in the Chinese capital Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) walks with South Korea's President Park Geun-hye (R) after posing for the APEC family photo at the Beijing National Aquatics Center in Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) puts on a shawl for Chinese President Xi Jinping's wife Peng Liyuan (2nd R) while Chinese President Xi Jinping (2nd L) and U.S. President Barack Obama (L) looks them before a fireworks show after the Welcome Banquet for 2014 APEC leaders at the National Aquatics Center, known as the Water Cube, on November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The 22nd APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting will hold on November 11, 2014 in Beijing, China. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)
China's President Xi Jinping (C) arrives with US President Barack Obama for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit banquet at the National Aquatics Center in the Chinese capital on November 10, 20142014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC are here for the summit from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak (2L), US President Barack Obama (2R) and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong pose for the APEC family photo at the Beijing National Aquatics Center in Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama is welcomed by Chinese President Xi Jinping as he arrives for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit banquet at the National Aquatics Center in the Chinese capital on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama is welcomed by Chinese President Xi Jinping as he arrives for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit banquet at the National Aquatics Center in the Chinese capital on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: US President Barack Obama walks onto the stage with Andrew Liveris, CEO and president of Dow Chemical at the APEC CEO Summit, as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit at the China National Convention Centre (CNCC) on November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. APEC economic leaders' meetings and APEC summit is being held at Beijing's outskirt Yanqi Lake. (Photo by Wang Zhao-Pool/Getty Imgaes)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: US President Barack Obama speaks at the APEC CEO Summit, as part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit at the China National Convention Centre (CNCC) on November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. APEC economic leaders' meetings and APEC summit is being held at Beijing's outskirt Yanqi Lake. (Photo by Wang Zhao-Pool/Getty Imgaes)
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, speaks during a bilateral meeting with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, popularly known as "Jokowi", Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 in Beijing. Obama is in China to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. Seated at left is U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
U.S. President Barack Obama, seated center right with members of his delegation, speaks during a bilateral meeting with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, popularly known as "Jokowi", seated center left, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 in Beijing. Obama is in China to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, speaks during a bilateral meeting with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, popularly known as "Jokowi", seated across the table at left, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 in Beijing. Obama is in China to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, popularly known as "Jokowi", speaks during his meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 in Beijing on the sidelines of the APEC Summit. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
U.S. President Barack Obama, right, speaks during a bilateral meeting with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, popularly known as "Jokowi", left, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 in Beijing. Obama is in China to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (2nd L) and Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (3rd L) takes part in a bilateral meeting with US President Barack Obama at a hotel in Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks during a bilateral meeting with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo at a hotel in Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (2nd R) and US National Security Advisor Susan Rice (3rd R) meet with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (2nd L) and Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi (L) a bilateral meeting at a hotel in Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama speaks during a bilateral meeting with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo at a hotel in Beijing on November 10, 2014. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama makes his way to board Air Force One before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on November 9, 2014. Obama is heading for a week-long trip to China, Myanmar, and Australia. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 9: United States President Barack Obama waves to the press as he prepares to depart the White House in Washington, D.C. en route to Beijing, China to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, on November 9, 2014 in Washinton, DC. The APEC 2014 Summit will bring together leaders and senior administration from 21 countries, with U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin expected to attend. (Photo by Ron Sachs - Pool /Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama makes his way to board Air Force One before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on November 9, 2014. Obama is heading for a week-long trip to China, Myanmar, and Australia. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 9: Marine One, with United States President Barack Obama on board departs the White House in Washington, D.C. en route to Beijing, China to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit, on November 9, 2014 in Washinton, DC. The APEC 2014 Summit will bring together leaders and senior administration from 21 countries, with U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin expected to attend. (Photo by Ron Sachs - Pool /Getty Images)
Air Force One with U.S. President Barack Obama on board arrives for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
US President Barack Obama waves as he arrives at Beijing's international airport on November 10, 2014. Obama arrived to take part in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama arrives at the Beijing Capital International Airport on November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC 2014 Summit will bring together leaders and senior administration from 21 countries November 7-11. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama walks down the stairs after disembarking from his plane at Beijing's international airport on November 10, 2014 as he arrives to take part in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama walks down the stairs after disembarking from his plane at Beijing's international airport on November 10, 2014 as he arrives to take part in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama arrives at the Beijing Capital International Airport on November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC 2014 Summit will bring together leaders and senior administration from 21 countries November 7-11. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama (L) speaks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi (R)after Obama arrived at Beijing's international airport on November 10, 2014. Obama arrived to take part in the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. Top leaders and ministers of the 21-member APEC grouping are meeting in Beijing from November 7 to 11. AFP PHOTO/Greg BAKER (Photo credit should read GREG BAKER/AFP/Getty Images)
BEIJING, CHINA - NOVEMBER 10: U.S. President Barack Obama arrives at the Beijing Capital International Airport on November 10, 2014 in Beijing, China. The APEC 2014 Summit will bring together leaders and senior administration from 21 countries November 7-11. (Photo by Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama walks past members of the military honor guard during his arrival on Air Force One at Beijing Capital International Airport, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014 in Beijing. Obama is in China to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
U.S. President Barack Obama walks past a Chinese honor guard as he arrives for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit at the airport in Beijing, Monday, Nov. 10, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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BEIJING (AP) -- Putting a bright face on the future of U.S. ties to China, President Barack Obama announced Monday that the two countries would start granting visas to each other's citizens valid for up to a decade. Yet thorny issues like human rights and trade lurked just under the surface, reflecting the tough road ahead for the two economic powers as Obama began a weeklong trip to the region.

Obama, addressing Asian business leaders at a high-level summit, sought to dispel the notion that America's interest in Asia should be a cause for concern for China's leaders. Beijing has viewed Obama's engagement here with trepidation, suspecting the U.S. wants to limit China's rise, but Obama insisted that "one country's prosperity doesn't have to come at the expense of the other."

"We want China to do well," Obama said. "We compete for business, but we also seek to cooperate on a broad range of challenges and shared opportunities."

The visa announcement came just after Obama's arrival in Beijing - a down-payment on closer ties that allowed the president to portray the U.S. and China as partnering in good faith. Obama vowed that if the U.S. and China can work together, the entire world stands to benefit.

"America's a Pacific power, and we are leading to promote shared security and shared economic growth in this century just as we did in the last," Obama said.

On the sidelines of the economic summit, Obama also had a brief encounter with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a close ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping who has been locked in conflict with Obama over his country's actions in Ukraine. But the two leaders didn't have time to discuss any issues, said a senior U.S. official, who wasn't authorized to comment by name and demanded anonymity.

Throughout Obama's first day in China, there were abundant reminders of the stark differences that have left the world's two largest economies eying each other warily from opposite sides of the Pacific Ocean.

At the U.S. Embassy, Obama hosted heads of state from the 11 other countries - excluding China - that are pursuing a long-delayed trade pact. Key obstacles to completing the deal remain, including Japan's objection to opening its markets to foreign competition, and U.S. officials said after the meeting that a final agreement was still a ways off.

"We're going to keep on working to get it done," Obama said, calling the pact "the model for trade in the 21st century."

White House officials have been more optimistic about the deal since last week's U.S. elections. Republicans, who tend to favor trade deals, won control of both chambers of Congress, making it more likely Obama can secure up-or-down approval for a final vote on the deal. That prospect was a rare silver lining for Obama in an election was disastrous for Obama's party and diminished his stature as he headed to Asia.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been a cornerstone of Obama's much-touted effort to expand U.S. influence in Asia, but yet another irritant in his relations with China, which isn't a party to the talks and has responded by pushing its own regional trade deal.

And in his remarks to Asian CEOs, Obama rattled off a litany of issues where the U.S. views China as not playing by the rules, including cyber-theft, currency manipulation, human rights and environmental standards. White House aides have said Obama plans to bring up such concerns during his meetings with Xi, but the president appeared to be carefully calibrating his words to avoid letting those disputes interfere with the broader relationship.

Sitting down earlier with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Obama was guarded in his comments about pro-democracy protests that have seized Hong Kong, urging China's government to prevent violence there while calling the situation "historically complicated."

"We're not going to stop speaking out on behalf of the things that we care about," Obama said, adding that those interests must be balanced with America's significant business interests with China.

Under the visa agreement, business and short-term tourist visas will be valid for 10 years, while student and cultural exchange visas will last for five. Currently, such visas expire after just one year.

Yet the actual benefits may be modest. The visa arrangement doesn't increase how long an American can remain in China or vice-versa, but rather how long the visa can be used to enter the country. And the same restrictions remain on who is eligible for a U.S. visa, including an in-person interview requirement that is arduous for those who don't live near a U.S. consulate.

The White House said it hoped the deal would lure more Chinese travelers to the U.S. - and with it, billions of dollars into the U.S. economy. U.S. officials said it could drive up demand that would create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S., without sacrificing national security. About 100 million Chinese traveled last year, but less than 2 percent of those came to the U.S.

The U.S. plans to start issuing the new visas Wednesday. Officials said the agreement had been in the works for months.

Obama Announces US-China Visa Deal

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