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Before White House state dinner, Obama presses Hu on rights (VIDEO)

President Barack Obama pressed Chinese President Hu Jintao to respect universal human rights during the four-day state visit.

White House State Dinner
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet Chinese President Hu Jintao upon his arrival on the North Portico of the White House in Washington, DC, January 19, 2011, prior to hosting a state dinner. (Saul Loeb//AFP/Getty Images)

President Barack Obama used a four-day state visit to press Chinese President Hu Jintao on the need for all nations to respect universal human rights, an issue that has caused tension between the two powers.

"History shows that societies are more harmonious, nations are more successful and the world is more just when the rights and responsibilities of all nations and all people are upheld, including the universal rights of every human being," Obama said.

Hu responded at a joint-news conference by arguing that China has "made enormous progress" but acknowledging that "a lot still needs to be done," according to reports.

Obama also pushed Hu on trade and currency issues, stressing that the United States would not accept currency manipulation.

Obama's strong words on human rights comes during a trip geared toward treating the Chinese president lavishly. Obama welcomed Hu to the White House at the start of the day with a red-carpet greeting and 21-gun salute and then later to a star-studded, regal state dinner complete with jazz musicians and all-American food. (The menu included Maine lobster and apple pie with vanilla ice cream.)

"The formal White House arrival ceremony — the 21-gun salute is reserved solely for visiting heads of state — was a display of pomp and circumstance that stood in stark contrast with the tough rhetoric the Obama administration is employing in its relationship with China on issues from trade to currency and human rights," according to The New York Times.

Obama also emphasized that he considers China an important friend and partner and that China's "peaceful rise" is good for the United States.

Read more from GlobalPost about the US-China summit:

US-China may announce deal on nuclear security (VIDEO)

US-China Summit: A lesson in parenting

Hu Jintao's state visit: Can the Chinese leader make a difference?

See this video on President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama welcoming Hu Jintao to the state dinner.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/china-and-its-neighbors/110119/white-house-state-dinner-obama-hu-rights