Obama in Asia

U.S.-China Relationship 'Critical' in Addressing Global Issues

NOVEMBER 19, 2009 - In a town-hall meeting with university students in Shanghai, President Barack Obama said a deeper relationship between the U.S. and China is critical to economic growth and essential to confronting global issues such as climate change and nuclear proliferation. 

Obama is also strongly suggesting that China, now not just an economic giant, must take a bigger role on the world stage—part of "burden of leadership" it shares with the United States, reports the Associated Press.

"President Obama's important first visit to China is a critical moment in the potential emergence of a new global order," said Asia Society Executive Vice President Jamie Metzl.  "As America's relative strength in world affairs decreases under the weight of the financial crisis, ballooning debt, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and seeming political paralysis at home, China has been thrust into a position of far greater global responsibility than could have been expected just a decade ago."

President Barack Obama met with his Chinese counterpart, President Hu Jintao about how their nations can lead on global issues, in what was characterised as a candid three-hour discussion.

"How China positions itself on efforts to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear weapons state and to strike a binding deal for all nations on climate change and whether China expresses a willingness to begin floating its undervalued currency will be clear indications of whether China will continue to define its interests in narrow national terms or will take its rightful place as a defender of a global system that spreads the benefits of progress more widely," said Metzl.

On Thursday, the last day of his Asian tour, which took him to Japan, Singapore, China and Korea, President Obama focused on nuclear disarmament talks with North Korea during his visit to Seoul. Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak agreed on a common approach to North Korea, with Obama announcing that his special envoy, Stephen W. Bosworth, will travel to Pyongyang on Dec. 8 to try to persuade Kim Jong Il's government to return to stalled six-party disarmament talks in Beijing.