Saying he wants China to contribute to global security and prosperity, President Barack Obama "absolutely" rejected the notion that the U.S. hopes to "contain" China in an interview published Monday.
Obama is on a three-country tour to Asia to attend the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) and G20 summits. In a written interview with the Chinese news service Xinhua, conducted before he arrived in the region, he said his administration has worked hard to "integrate China into the global economy and expand trade between us."
Despite the warm words, Obama said he expected "direct and candid" discussions — diplomat-speak for disagreements — over China's human rights record and the importance of "free and fair" trade — "including protecting trade secrets from cyber-theft."
The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact, or TPP — an 11-country agreement that doesn't include China — hasn't been completed, and it isn't likely to be done during Obama's visit, analysts predict. China isn't part of the TPP talks, but it is open to joining.
In his first public remarks in Beijing, Obama welcomed North Korea's release of U.S. prisoners Kenneth Bae and Matthew Miller over the weekend but said there was unlikely to be any diplomatic breakthrough with the secretive regime.
"There were not high-level policy discussions," Obama said during a meeting with Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, according to The Associated Press. When asked whether the negotiations to secure their releases gave him new insight into North Korea's mysterious president, Kim Jong-un, and his strategy for dealing with the U.S., Obama said curtly, "No."
Obama will also make stops in Myanmar and Australia on the nine-day trip.
- Full Interview With President Barack Obama (Xinhua)
- Obama in Asia: Focus on Economy, Trade and Legacy
— M. Alex Johnson