- The Washington Times - Monday, November 10, 2014

In Beijing, President Obama on Monday challenged China on human rights, intellectual property, freedom of the press, cyberhacking and a host of other hindrances to closer cooperation between the two economic superpowers.

The president said he welcomes economic growth in Asia and stressed that China’s rise not only is good for its people but for the U.S. and the world as a whole.

But while China grows, Mr. Obama said, it has a chance to show global leadership and reverse course on a number of troublesome issues.

“We look to China to become an innovative economy that values the protection of intellectual property rights and rejects cybertheft of trade secrets for commercial gain. We look to China to approve biotechnology advances that are critical to feeding a growing planet on the same timeline as other countries, to move definitively toward a more market-determined exchange rate, and, yes, to stand up for human rights and freedom of the press,” the president said during a speech to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Monday.

“And we don’t suggest these things because they’re good for us; we suggest that China do these things for the sake of sustainable growth in China, and the stability of the Asia-Pacific region,” he said.

Hacking remains a major source of tension between the U.S. and China.

In one of the most recent instances. Senate investigators revealed in September that hackers with ties to China’s military broke into the computer networks of Pentagon contractors on at least nine occasions.

Earlier this year, the Justice Department charged five members of the Chinese military for cyber espionage, alleging they hacked into the computer networks of U.S. countries to steal trade secrets.

China also routinely imprisons journalists and takes other steps to restrict the free flow of information — steps Mr. Obama explicitly condemned.

“We know that if given a choice, our young people would demand more access to the world’s information, not less,” the president said.

The country’s intellectual property rights also have come under fire, though China has launched a new court specifically aimed at ensuring adequate IP protections.

Despite those and other outstanding issues between the two nations, Mr. Obama said he hopes to make progress on a “bilateral investment treaty” with China while he’s in Beijing. Such a deal, he said, would “unlock even more progress and more opportunity” for both nations.

More broadly, the president said the U.S. and the rest of the world must not fear China’s economic rise.

“We welcome the rise of a prosperous, peaceful and stable China,” Mr. Obama said. “In fact, over recent decades the United States has worked to help integrate China into the global economy, not only because it’s in China’s best interest, but because it’s in America’s best interest, and the world’s best interest. We want China to do well.”

Also on Monday, the president announced a new visa agreement with China. Business and tourist visas now will be valid for 10 years, while student visas will be valid for five years, Mr. Obama said.

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