World Bulletin/News Desk
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Wednesday Chinese President Xi Jinping had consolidated power faster than any Chinese leader in decades, raising human rights concerns and worrying China's neighbors.
Obama, who met Xi last month in Beijing, told the Business Roundtable group of U.S. chief executives that the Chinese leader had won respect in the short time since he had taken over.
"And everybody's been impressed by his ... clout inside of China after only a year and a half or two years."
But Obama said there were negative sides to Xi's rise.
"There are dangers in that. On issues of human rights, on issues of clamping down on dissent. He taps into a nationalism that worries his neighbors," Obama said, noting maritime disputes in the region.
"On the other hand, I think they have a very strong interest in maintaining good relations with the United States. And my visit was a demonstration of their interest in managing this relationship effectively."
"It is indisputable that they engage in it, and it is a problem. And we push them hard on it."
Obama encouraged the chief executives to speak out when they were being "strong-armed" on those issues despite risks that their businesses could be penalized in China for doing so.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the steady development of ties suited both countries.
"It is only natural that we have different points of view on certain issues, but our common interests outweigh our differences," she told a briefing in Beijing.
Obama was less optimistic about Russia and President Vladimir Putin. The Russian leader, whose country is suffering from Western sanctions over its annexation of Crimea, was caught off guard by the situation in Ukraine.
"He has been improvising himself into a nationalist, backward-looking approach to Russian policy that is scaring the heck out of his neighbors and is badly damaging his economy," Obama said.Last Mod: 04 Aralık 2014, 13:41