Obama to host China's Xi Jinping for September 25 state visit

  • AFP, Washington
  • Updated: Sep 16, 2015 09:15 IST

US President Barack Obama will offer his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping a full state welcome at the White House on September 25, a spokesperson announced on Tuesday.

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama will host Xi and his wife Peng Liyuan, a Chinese folk singing superstar, "at an official state dinner on the evening of September 25," said White House spokesperson Josh Earnest.

The prestigious welcome comes after Obama made a similar trip to China in November 2014. But it belies deep and growing tensions between the world's two pre-eminent economic and political powers.

Xi is seen as one of the most powerful Chinese leaders in decades, but his vision of creating a "Chinese dream" and returning the country to great power status has met economic headwinds.

After decades of breakneck growth, the Chinese economy is weakening, creating a worldwide ripple effect, from slower trade volumes to skittishness on global equity and commodity markets.

The visit will be an opportunity to "expand US-China cooperation" and "address areas of disagreement constructively," said Earnest, in a nod to problems ranging from cyber attacks to Beijing's controversial maritime claims.

In advance of the visit, Obama has warned that the scale of cyber attacks from China was "not acceptable," and officials have floated the idea of sanctions.

China could "choose to make this an area of competition," Obama said, but he issued a stern warning -- "I guarantee you we will win if we have to."

Both the United States and China have developed vast cyber security and intelligence gathering capabilities.

Beijing has been blamed for a recent breach of US federal government personnel files that left millions of officials -- including some at the very top levels -- exposed.

"We have been quite clear that the United States does not engage in the kind of cyber activity that yields a significant financial benefit for American companies, and that's precisely the kind of behavior and activity that we've raised concerns about with regard to China," said Earnest.

The White House is also deeply concerned by a series of Chinese claims to disputed territories in the South and East China Sea.

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