Chinese President to Deliver "Important Address" in U.S.

U.S. President Barack Obama meets China's President Hu Jintao (File Photo).

China says President Hu Jintao will give an "important address" on U.S.-China relations during his state visit to the United States next week.

During a press briefing Wednesday, Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said the address will also deal with perceptions by the United States and the international community about China's peaceful development. He said the exact date and location of the speech have not yet been determined.

Cui said economic issues will be discussed during Mr. Hu's meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama on January 19. The United States has been pressing China to let its currency appreciate more rapidly, but Cui noted that China also has concerns about the security of its own assets in the United States.

He said the presidents would talk about how to promote a "strong, sustainable and balanced economic recovery of the world."

Cui touched on several other points of friction between the countries, including China's rapid military buildup, human rights, the export of rare earth minerals and territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

Cui said there is no reason for the United States to be concerned about China's development of a stealth jet fighter, which had its first flight test on Tuesday. He said the development of the aircraft "is not targeted at any other country."

The assistant minister said differences on human rights issues are the result of "different historical backgrounds, social systems and levels of economic development." But he insisted that the imprisonment of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo is a criminal matter, not a human rights issue.

Regarding China's steady cuts in export quotas for rare earths, Cui said China has only 30 percent of the world's supply of the minerals, yet produces more than 90 percent of the mined metals used around the world in high-tech products ranging from computer hard drives to electric cars. He said it is only reasonable that other countries accept some of the environmental impact of mining the minerals.

Cui said the South China Sea dispute has been overly hyped by international media. He said disputes over a number of islands and reefs in the sea are of long standing and can be resolved among the countries in the region "through bilateral dialogue and consultations."

The United States has backed several other countries in calling for a multilateral approach to the disputes, and declared a U.S. interest in maintaining free navigation through the sea. Cui said there has never been a question of navigational freedom and safety in the area.