High hopes pinned on Hu's visit

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Leading US experts on China have hailed the upcoming summit between President Hu Jintao and his US counterpart Barack Obama, as commercial deals between the two countries, worth nearly $600 million, were signed on Monday. 

The visit by Hu, who flew to the United States on Tuesday, is timely and will enhance the relationship, the experts said.

"The visit is a good opportunity, not just for the leaders to get together but for people in China and the US to feel that this is an important relationship. It has a public aspect," Douglas Spelman, deputy director of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, said. "I think both sides have to give priority to the underlining common interests and not let the differences override them."

Susan Shirk, professor at the University of California, San Diego, said that the visit will be an important occasion for China and the US to "get back on a positive track".

"That is certainly in the interests of both countries. And I see some encouraging signs on the Chinese side that that's what they want to do," said Shirk, a former deputy assistant secretary of state for East Asia during the Clinton administration.

While the White House is preparing to roll out the red carpet for the leader of the world's largest developing country, the US media have devoted heavy coverage to the visit, describing it as the most important in 30 years.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser in Jimmy Carter's administration, described Hu's visit as "the most important top-level US-China encounter since Deng Xiaoping's historic trip more than 30 years ago", in a column he wrote for The New York Times earlier this month.

The Chicago Tribune said that the two nations are emphasizing cooperation after a difficult year in 2010. 

CNN described relations between Beijing and Washington as being at a "critical juncture", but added that the US does not view China as a threat.

Nicholas Platt, president emeritus of the Asia Society, said that strategic trust, which he described as a buzzword among intellectuals and the foreign policy community, was a goal worth achieving.

"I think (it's) something we should all be striving for. We should also look below the surface to what Chinese and Americans are actually doing together before making a judgment of whether we have trust or not," he said.

Meanwhile, just ahead of the visit, Chinese and US businesses signed six deals worth $574 million in Houston, Texas, on Monday to kick off a four-day Beijing trade mission to the US.

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