Obama strikes right note on China

President Barack Obama needed to hit the right note on China as Hu Jintao, his counterpart from the most populous country, looked on. It seems he has succeeded.

Speaking before a phalanx of reporters, Obama stressed the need for the two countries to reach common ground on matters of trade. He also chided China -- fairly gently -- over the treatment of ethnic minorities, such as the Tibetans and Uighars. The speech also reminded the Chinese -- in the most diplomatic language imaginable -- to respect the rights of its citizens, which it regularly tramples upon.

Obama can only go so far in castigating the Chinese. The country holds more than $801 billion in U.S. government-backed debt and has been adding to its position, according to Bloomberg News. U.S. companies have outsourced the manufacturing of finished goods to Chinese companies that seem to have a limitless manufacturing capacity.

As the U.S. budget deficit tops $1.5 trillion and unemployment climbs toward double digits, the U.S. has to find a way to coexist with China -- or else risk economic catastrophe.

"And we also know this: the relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st century, which makes it as important as any bilateral relationship in the world," Obama said. "That reality must underpin our partnership. That is the responsibility we bear."

Perhaps Obama will be taking notes as well. Late last year, the Chinese unveiled a $585 billion economic stimulus package that appears to be having better results than the U.S.'s $787 billion aid program.

Speaking on CNBC, U.S. Chamber of Commerce head Tom Donohue, a fierce critic of the Obama health care proposal, spoke kindly of his China speech.

"The President raised the right issues," he said, adding that improving the trade relationship "would be the single biggest stimulus."
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