President Barack Obama has met with his Chinese counterpart in Beijing, after emphasizing the importance of freedom of information in a question and answer session with college students in Shanghai.
President Obama’s first order of business in Beijing was to meet with China’s president, Hu Jintao, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse for talks and dinner.
Earlier in the day, President Obama spoke with Chinese college students at a candid question and answer session in China’s commercial capital, Shanghai. He stressed the importance of U.S.-China cooperation in tackling global challenges.
“We know that more is to be gained when great powers cooperate than when they collide,” President Obama said.
President Obama said countries should respect each other and that one country should not impose its system of government on any other nation. But at the same time, he made it clear that he will speak out in support of what Americans consider to be basic human freedoms.
“These freedoms of expression and worship, of access to information and political participation, we believe are universal rights,” the president said. “They should be available to all people.”
Mr. Obama also said he is opposed to Chinese government restrictions on Internet access to some social networking and international news websites.
“I am a big believer in technology and I am a big believer in openness when it comes to the free flow of information,” Mr. Obama said.
Meanwhile, Mr. Obama also told the Chinese students he believes terrorist networks like al Qaida continue to pose the greatest threat to U.S. security.
President Obama meets again Tuesday with President Hu and other Chinese leaders. Issues expected to be on the agenda include climate change, trade, North Korea and Iran. White House aides have said Mr. Obama will raise several human rights issues privately with Chinese leaders.
President Obama is on his first visit to China. Besides the high-level meetings, he also is due to visit two of country’s most famous tourist sites – the Forbidden City, where Chinese emperors used to live, and the Great Wall of China.