China Willing to 'Dialogue' on Human Rights

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It was a red carpet arrival at the White House for Chinese President Hu Jintao, but tough talks on issues like human rights that have strained U.S.-China relations soon followed.

Hu and President Barack Obama stressed the need to cooperate, despite differences on trade, security, Chinese currency, and human rights violations.

"Nations, including our own will be more prosperous and more secure when we work together," Obama said at press conference with Hu, Wednesday.

Obama went on to stress, "We have some core views as Americans about the universality of certain rights: freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly."

Hu agreed that "a lot still needs to be done" to improve China's human rights record.

"China recognizes and also respects the universality of human rights," Hu said. "At the same time, we need to take into account the different national circumstances. China is a developing country with a huge population, and also a developing country in a crucial stage of reform."

Economics was also a hot topic.

The leaders met with top executives from both American and Chinese companies. U.S. business leaders called Wednesday's meeting a critical moment.

America is in danger of losing its distinction as the world's leader in factory production to China.

According to the Alliance for American Manufacturing, the U.S. lost 2.5 million jobs over the last decade because of America's growing trade deficit with the communist nation.

"We are tied together with China on trade, and unfortunately it's been more of a one way relationship than a two way relationship," said Scott Paul, with the Alliance for American Manufacturing.

In an effort to squelch fears of China's growing economic prowess, the Obama administration announced China will ease policies that currently prevent Beijing from purchasing products designed in the U.S.

President Obama also announced China will buy $45 billion in U.S. exports.

"From machinery to software, from aviation to agriculture, these deals will support some 235,000 American jobs, and that includes many manufacturing jobs," Obama explained.

President Hu also talked about both countries respecting "each other's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and development interests."

The Obamas will host Hu for a State Dinner, Wednesday evening.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have criticized the administration for honoring the president of a country with such a poor record on human rights.

New House Speaker John Boehner has decided not to attend the dinner because of China's human rights record.

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Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.