- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Cyber attacks from China notwithstanding, President Obama spoke glowingly Wednesday about Chinese President Xi Jinping and China’s “can-do” spirit.

“Everybody’s been impressed by his — you know, his — his clout inside of China after only a year and a half or two years,” Mr. Obama told business leaders in Washington. “He has consolidated power faster and more comprehensively than probably anybody since Deng Xiaoping [China’s leader from 1978 to 1992].”

Mr. Obama recently met with Mr. Xi at a summit in China, where the two leaders agreed in principle on a plan to cut carbon emissions in the U.S. more steeply and to cap greenhouse gasses in China within 15 years or so. Critics have said the nonbinding deal would hurt U.S. industry more than it would affect the Chinese economy.

The president also praised China’s ability to mobilize on infrastructure projects.

“The one thing I will say is if they need to build some stuff, they can build it,” Mr. Obama said. “And over time, that wears away our advantage competitively. It’s embarrassing. You know, you drive down the roads and you look at what they’re able to do.”

He added that the conference center where the summit was held near Beijing “probably put most of the conference centers here to shame. They had built it in a year.”

Seeming to realize that he was perhaps too effusive in his praise of the communist nation, Mr. Obama later said “I am absolutely confident we’ve got better cards than China does. And I’d much rather have our problems than China’s problems.”

The president said Mr. Xi’s power grab has ramifications for human rights in that nation, and said the Chinese leader “taps into a nationalism that worries his neighbors.”

“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,” Mr. Obama said.

• Dave Boyer can be reached at dboyer@washingtontimes.com.

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