Xi's US Visit 2015

Obama ready to talk tough with China's President Xi Jinping during US state visit

White House says the two leaders will discuss 'areas of disagreement' between the nations - China says these will include regional security

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 17 September, 2015, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 September, 2015, 1:08pm

"Areas of disagreement" would be addressed during President Xi Jinping's state visit to Washington, the White House said on Wednesday, in language observers say suggests US President Barack Obama won't be pulling any punches.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about Xi Jinping’s US visit: itinerary, issues and delegation

Obama and his wife Michelle would host Xi and his wife, Peng Liyuan, at a state dinner on September 25, the White House said.

Obama: China cannot push its 'little neighbours around'

Xi would be given a 21-gun salute on the South Lawn, the highest level of diplomatic pageantry for a foreign leader, The Washington Post reported.

Xi's state visit would run four days beginning on September 22, the foreign ministry said, and he would spend the following three days at the United Nations in New York, where he would deliver a speech. The global body is marking its 70th anniversary this month.

Read more: Sino-US bilateral investment treaty talks go down to the wire for Xi Jinping's state visit

The White House was direct in recognising the tensions between the two nations, saying the visit would enable Obama and Xi "to address areas of disagreement constructively", adding the summit offered a chance to expand cooperation in a variety of areas.

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Xi would address issues that had stoked fears of confrontation between the two nations, including security in the Asia-Pacific.

Observers said they were unsurprised by Washington's language, given the increasing tensions between the world powers. "The two countries have many problems to tackle - the South China Sea, cybersecurity and trade," said Jie Dalei, a professor of international relations at Peking University.

"Not to mention the US is quite concerned with China's draft NGO law."

The draft calls for foreign NGOs to be sponsored by a government organisation and be registered with the police.

Bonnie Glaser, a senior Asia adviser at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, a US-based think tank, said Obama was prepared to talk "very directly" with Xi on these issues, especially in relation to China's practices in human rights.

"It is not seen as the right time [in the US] to only emphasise the positive," Glaser said.

"There is no doubt that Obama is not pulling punches when it comes to dealing with the problems."

Mentioning "disagreements" could be to protect the Obama administration from domestic political criticism that it was being overly friendly with China, said Professor Huang Jing, an expert on US-China relations at the National University of Singapore.

Some members of Congress and presidential hopefuls have reportedly pushed for the White House to downgrade Xi's trip from a state visit or even cancel it.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse