Obama and Xi Jinping speak at White House | News | DW | 25.09.2015
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Obama and Xi Jinping speak at White House

US President Barack Obama has criticized China's human rights record at a joint appearance with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping. They have agreed on other issues.

"I expressed in candid terms our strong view that preventing journalists, lawyers, NGOs and civil society groups from operating freely or closing churches and denying ethnic minorities equal treatment are all problematic, in our view, and actually prevent China and its people from realizing its full potential," Barack Obama said after his talks with Xi Jinping on Friday in Washington.

The Chinese president said his country was concerned about human rights, but insisted that reform must come on its own timetable. "We must recognize that countries have different historical processes and realities, that we need to respect people of all countries in the rights to choose their own development path independently," he told reporters in Washington.

Tackling global warming

The two presidents issued a joint statement on climate change that included China's announcement that it would commit $3.1 billion (2.77 billion euros) to help developing countries reduce carbon emissions. This is one of a series of measures taken with the US to combat global warming. The US earlier pledged 3 billion dollars to a United Nations fund to aid developing nations reduce emissions.

Commenting on the new statement, Greenpeace East Asia Senior Climate Policy Analyst, Li Shuo, said: "With this deal, it's clear China is ready to lead on climate. The old political excuses for inaction in Washington have become irrelevant. On the wave of moral inspiration after the pope's visit, US politicians should raise the level of their ambition."

Li Shuo added: "The US and China frequently find themselves disagreeing with each other, but the one thing that the leaders are aligned on is climate change. The overwhelming scale of the crisis transcends differences of political system and development stage. If the US and China can agree on the urgency of tackling climate change, the world should find it possible to forge a successful deal in Paris."

US and China agree to stop cybertheft

Barack Obama and Xi Jinping also agreed not to conduct or support cybertheft of business secrets. The US president delivered a blunt message to his Chinese counterpart that such espionage "has to stop." Xi Jinping agreed that the countries would not "knowingly support" cybertheft and promised to abide by "norms of behavior" in cyberspace.

If China does not follow through, Obama said the United States would use sanctions, traditional law enforcement and other measures to "go after cyber criminals".

das/msh (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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