Obama raises rights in White House welcome for Hu

US President Barack Obama and China’s President Hu Jintao sparred gently over human rights Wednesday, opening a state visit in which calls for cooperation barely masked tensions over economics.

Trumpets sounded and a 21-gun salute blasted over Washington as Hu arrived at the White House against a red, white and blue backdrop of US and Chinese flags, in the most sumptuous pageantry a US president can muster.

The two leaders quickly went into Oval Office talks expected to lay bare disputes over currency policy, trade, US economic policy, access to Chinese markets and differing visions of Asian security and world affairs.

At a welcoming ceremony, Obama said that despite the doubts of some people in both countries, the United States and China had an “enormous stake” in one another’s future prosperity and success. “With this visit, we can lay the foundation for the next 30 years,” Obama said.