Obama says China's Xi has consolidated power quickly, worrying neighbours

US President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that Chinese President Xi Jinping (above) has consolidated power more quickly than any Chinese leader in decades and that is raising human rights concerns and worrying China's neighbours. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
US President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that Chinese President Xi Jinping (above) has consolidated power more quickly than any Chinese leader in decades and that is raising human rights concerns and worrying China's neighbours. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US President Barack Obama said on Wednesday that Chinese President Xi Jinping has consolidated power more quickly than any Chinese leader in decades and that is raising human rights concerns and worrying China’s neighbours.

Obama, who met Xi last month in Beijing, told the Business Roundtable group of top US chief executives that he found the Chinese leader wanted to have good relations with the United States.

“He has consolidated power faster and more comprehensively than probably anybody since Deng Xiaoping,” Obama said, referring to the man who led China from 1978 to 1992.

“And everybody’s been impressed by his... clout inside of China after only a year and a half or two years.”

Obama said there were negative sides to Xi’s rise.

“There are dangers in that. On issues of human rights, on issues of clamping down on dissent. He taps into a nationalism that worries his neighbours,” Obama said, noting maritime disputes in the region.

“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.”

Obama said the US goal with China has been to show it, too, wanted a constructive relationship that is a “win-win” for both sides, but that it needs to fix things such as commercial cyber theft.

“It is indisputable that they engage in it, and it is a problem. And we push them hard on it.”