January 19th, 2011
09:18 AM ET
By the CNN Wire Staff
(CNN) - President Barack Obama will host a formal state dinner for his Chinese counterpart on Wednesday - part of a day that will
Chinese President Hu Jintao is on a three-day trip to the United States for talks on trade, currency and North Korea. It will the eighth face-to-face meeting between the two leaders.
Hu will stress the importance of a comprehensive partnership between the two nations to help ensure stability worldwide, Chinese state media reported, despite their differences on issues such as human rights and currency controls.
In addition to Obama, the leader is scheduled to meet with top legislators and business executives and then visit Chicago.
Later Tuesday, he had a small dinner at the White House with Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Adviser Tom Donilon.
"This provides a bit of an informal setting in which to have some of these discussions," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said about the dinner.
On Wednesday, the two leaders will hold bilateral talks followed by a joint news conference. Hu will be the guest of honor at a formal state dinner in the evening.
This dinner marks the third state dinner of the Obama administration.
The last White House state dinner for China was 13 years ago, when President Bill Clinton welcomed President Jiang Zemin and his wife, Wang Yeping, in October 1997.
Before Hu's arrival, U.S. legislators and demonstrators criticized China's human rights record, including political repression, and called for Obama to press the issue in his talks with the Chinese leader.
"It is more important to honor and remember those who cannot attend this State Dinner rather than those who will be in attendance," Rev. Patrick Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition, said in a statement.
"While the guests are dining on expensive and extravagant food there will be scores who will be oppressed and placed behind bars by the Chinese government because of their faith and political beliefs; people like Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo who is in prison."
Gibbs said that Obama would raise human rights concerns with Hu.
"Obviously that is a topic of some significance that the two leaders will talk about," Gibbs told reporters. "We will continue to have difficult conversations" with China on the subject.
This week's meeting between the leaders of the world's two largest economies also put the spotlight on criticism that the government-controlled People's Bank of China artificially undervalues the yuan, bringing down the cost of Chinese exports, which would give it an advantage in the international market.
Last week, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said China must do more to address its undervalued currency and dependence on exports, adding that such a move is in Beijing's best interest because it will control inflation.
Senate Democrats this week renewed their push to crack down on countries that manipulate their currencies, with China clearly in their crosshairs.
A bill introduced Monday by New York Sen. Charles Schumer and two other Democrats would impose penalties, including possible tariffs, on nations that manipulate their currencies.
The senators told reporters in a conference call that China's currency and trade polices undercut U.S. manufacturers and are costing American jobs.
"China's currency is like a boot on the throat of America's economic recovery," Schumer said.
But Hu has dismissed the argument that price stability is a reason for yuan appreciation, telling the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal that Chinese inflation is "moderate and controllable."