Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in the United States on Tuesday for a four-day state visit punctuated in advance by threats from U.S. senators to punish Beijing over its currency policies.
The White House weighed in on the dispute over the level of the yuan hours before Hu was due to arrive, urging China to take more steps to allow its currency to strengthen.
“We believe that more must be done. That is an opinion that is held not just by this country but by many countries around the world,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.
Hu said earlier this week he would not accept U.S. arguments that the yuan was undervalued — an opening volley in a disagreement that is expected to dominate this week’s trip.
Analysts are calling the visit the most important by a Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping helped open bilateral ties 30 years ago, given China’s growing military and diplomatic influence and its emergence as the world’s second-largest economy after the United States.
Tensions over trade will feature prominently in Wednesday’s summit between Hu and President Barack Obama. A host of other thorny issues, from rebalancing the global economy to dealing with North Korea, will round out the agenda.
Energy is also on the list and both countries sought to use that issue as a positive kickstart to the week, including cooperation in the clean energy field.