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Chinese President, Obama Have Much To Discuss

LIANE HANSEN, Host:

NPR's Rob Gifford is in Shanghai. And, Rob, how important is this visit to China and the Chinese?

ROB GIFFORD: But I think for the ordinary people I've spoken to, they don't actually care too much. It's amazing. I think they're really too busy either making a million dollars or scraping just to get by.

HANSEN: What specifically, then, do the Chinese leaders hope to accomplish while they're here in the United States?

GIFFORD: The places he's going to in Chicago, a school that teaches Mandarin, an auto- parts biz that China has invested in to show that China is actually creating jobs in United States, and a joint clean energy project to show that China cares about the environment - all these things trying to present China as a partner.

HANSEN: Some Americans say it's the most important China/U.S. summit since Nixon went to China. A new era, China is stronger. Do the Chinese have the same opinion?

GIFFORD: I think the Chinese see themselves as much weaker than the West does. And that's because, of course, they live here and they see the domestic problems that the Chinese government has. They see this summit certainly as important. But, as I mentioned, I think they just have so many problems here that they are thinking much more of those things. They'll see the prestige that President Hu gets, but that's really more of their focus here at home at the moment.

HANSEN: How likely are the Chinese, though, to make concessions on issues the U.S. sees as important - things like trade ties, currency revaluation and, of course, North Korea?

GIFFORD: Well, I think President Hu will make all sorts of friendly noises about considering this and that and the other. But I think, in the end, his domestic pressures are going to be too strong. And I think even though he will say some friendly words, I think he may well hang tough on all sorts of things like those issues because he knows he has to do what's right for China and not what's right for America. And that will be the conflict - trying to present a charm offensive to the American people, when he's still hanging tough on issues that are dear to American hearts.

HANSEN: NPR's Rob Gifford in Shanghai. Rob, thank you.

GIFFORD: Thank you, Liane. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.