Obama Admin defends its decision to invite Hu on State dinner

"The truth is we have met with them on many occasions. We had a state dinner in China; it was brought up before that. We've had bilateral meetings at economic summits like G8 or G20, where it's been brought up," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters at his daily news conference.

"I think the President's belief is it is important to speak out, as he's done, and it's important to bring this up directly with them," Gibbs said responding to question on why Hu has been invited for a State dinner when his government continues to violate human rights of its own people.

President Barack Obama's decision to honour Hu with a state dinner comes after former
president George W Bush decided to offer the Chinese leader a formal luncheon rather than the full state visit treatment when he was at the White House in 2006.

"How can you tell the folks that really are upset about China's human rights record that somehow giving them that symbolic state dinner almost gives them a little bit of a - it's like, well, yes, we bring it up, we do this... you could do that with the same type of meeting you've met with the Chinese President without giving him the state dinner platform," Gibbs was asked.

"We believe, again, this is an important venue and forum with which to raise some of the concerns that you talked about earlier, and I have not heard voiced concern that we're not meeting with the right person," Gibbs said, pointing out that this would be the eighth meeting between Obama and Hu.

"We want to build on the cooperative part of the relationship with China and -- and deal directly with some of those very difficult challenges," he said.

"I think it is pretty safe to assume that some of those issues are not issues that China wishes to speak about, and the President brings up -- because they are important to our standing in the world and our relationship with the Chinese.  And I expect him to continue to do so," he said.

"We have a cooperative but a competitive relationship with China. And as in many bilateral relationships, we see the benefits of that and we understand the difficult challenges that lie ahead. You mentioned Iran and North Korea in the security basket.

Currency is an important - currency and trade in the economic basket, and the very important issue and real issue of human rights," Gibbs said.

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