Washington, DC — US President Barack Obama urged Chinese President Xi Jinping to engage in dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama or his representatives and asked China to preserve the religious and cultural identity of the Tibetan people.
Addressing a joint press conference with the Chinese President at the White House on September 25, the President Obama mentioned the name of Tibet's spiritual leader -- His Holiness the Dalai Lama who is seeking genuine autonomy for Tibet within the framework of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China.
"Even as we recognize Tibet as part of the People's Republic of China, we continue to encourage Chinese authorities to preserve the religious and cultural identity of the Tibetan people, and to engage the Dalai Lama or his representatives," President Obama said.
"We had a frank discussion about human rights, as we have in the past. And I again affirmed America's unwavering support for the human rights and fundamental freedoms of all people, including freedom of assembly and expression, freedom of the press and freedom of religion," Obama said.
"I expressed in candid terms our strong view that preventing journalists, lawyers, NGOs and civil society groups from operating freely, or closing churches and denying ethnic minorities equal treatment are all problematic, in our view, and actually prevent China and its people from realizing its full potential."
"Obviously, we recognize that there are real differences there. And President Xi shared his views in terms of how he can move forward in a step-by-step way that preserves Chinese unity. So we expect that we're going to continue to consult in these areas," Obama added.
"Even as our nations cooperate, I believe — and I know you agree — that we must address our differences candidly," Obama said from the South Lawn of the White House shortly after Xi's arrival. "The United States will always speak out on behalf of fundamental truths."
"Democracy and human rights are the common pursuit of mankind. At the same time, we must recognize that countries have different historical processes and realities," Obama added saying, "we need to respect people of all countries in the right to choose their own development path independently."
"The Chinese people are seeking to realize the great renew of the Chinese nation, which is the Chinese history. This process in essence is a process to achieve social equity and justice and advancing human rights," he said.
The US President said that "China stands ready to, in the spirit of equality and mutual respect, conduct human rights dialogue with the United States, expand consensus, reduce differences, learn from each other, and progress together."
Hacking allegations, discriminatory regulations and human rights concerns have shadowed Xi's first state visit to Washington. Congressional Republicans and GOP White House hopefuls have pressed Obama to use the meetings with Xi to take a more stringent approach with China on these topics. Several candidates even called on the administration to downgrade, or even cancel, the event.
But Obama stuck by his decision to welcome Xi with all the trappings of a full state visit, including military marches, music and a 21-gun salute.
But, President Xi avoided directly addressing trade concerns or human rights in his remarks. XI simply said, through a translator, that both countries must "encourage our two societies to meet each other halfway and cement the social foundation of China-U.S. relations."
Xi said he was willing to have a human rights dialogue with the United States, but as is customary with Chinese leaders, he pointed out that the concept of human rights was seen differently in Beijing.
"We must recognize that countries have different historical processes and realities, that we need to respect people of all countries in the rights to choose their own development independently," he said.
And with the eyes of the world on China's economy, amid fears that a slowdown and a stock market clump could tip the world into recession, Xi promised a "proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy" to restore growth rates to around 7%.
"We continue to have serious concerns about some of China's actions, as they do ours, in each – in such areas for us as cyber space, maritime security, economic policy, human rights, that are preventing our relationship from reaching its full potential," said Secretary Kerry who co-hosted a lunch for Chinese President Xi Along With US Vice President Joe Biden.
"But the commitment was we would work very hard to work through it to see the Chinese perspective, and for them to see ours," Kerry added.