Obama meets Hu after blunt words on North Korea

US President Barack Obama meets President Hu Jintao today, after delivering a sharp public warning to China that its efforts to control its nuclear armed neighbor North Korea are not working.

Obama and Hu will hold talks on the sidelines of a summit dedicated to the threat of nuclear terrorism, and their bid to keep ties stable, despite the turbulence of domestic political drama in both nations, will be put to the test.

With North Korea threatening to launch a rocket next month, Northeast Asia is again on edge, and Obama made clear in unusually direct language in Seoul yesterday that he did not believe China's approach was bearing fruit.

While sympathising with China's lot in sharing a border with the erratic communist state, Obama suggested it was time for a change in Chinese strategy.

"What I have said to them consistently is rewarding bad behavior, turning a blind eye to deliberate provocations, trying to paper over these not just provocative words but extraordinarily provocative acts that violate international norms -- that's not obviously working." Obama said.

"My suggestion to China is, is that how they communicate their concerns to North Korea should probably reflect the fact that the approach they've taken over the last several decades hasn't led to a fundamental shift in North Korea's behaviour."

Washington has frequently called on Beijing to do more to control Pyongyang, given its role as one of North Korea's few trading partners, and states with any influence over its despotic leaders.

Hu and Obama will meet at a time when both leaders are increasingly preoccupied by their own domestic political calendars -- with a new generation of leaders poised to assume power in China and Obama's quickening re-election bid at home.

Obama must watch his flank as his likely Republican foe Mitt Romney lacerates his policy towards Beijing, seeking to exploit a perception among blue collar voters that unfair Chinese trade practices cost US jobs.

Hu enters the meeting against a backdrop of intrigue ahead of the 18th Communist Party Congress later this year, expected to enshrine Xi Jinping as China's next leader.
Jia Qingguo, professor and associate dean of the School of International Studies of Peking University said Hu and Obama will be preoccupied with "how to maintain stability in the relationship" as the year's politics unfold.

The Hu-Obama summit takes place after China's Communist Party leadership was rocked by a rare scandal, after Bo Xilai, leader of the Chongqing metropolis was sacked after a key aide reportedly tried to defect to the United States.

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