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November 16, 2009

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Weather fails to dampen Obama's glee

BARACK Obama arrived in Shanghai about 11:10 last night, the first time he has visited China since being elected United States president.

Obama's Air Force One aircraft landed at Pudong International Airport in cold weather and heavy rain.

He gave a broad smile and waved at the crowd when he stepped from the plane.

After he descended the steps, he received a bunch of flowers from a young Shanghai girl and positively beamed as he accepted them.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan Rice and National Security Adviser James Jones also arrived in Shanghai last night.

Obama will meet top city officials this morning.

In the afternoon he will talk with young Chinese people at the Shanghai Science and Technology Museum where he will answer a number of questions out of more than 3,200 put forward by Chinese Internet users.

This event will be televised and broadcast live online.

He will then fly to Beijing to continue his four-day China visit.

Obama is on a nine-day tour of Asia, which started on Friday with a leg in Japan, followed by his participation in the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Singapore.

In an Asian policy speech Obama delivered in Tokyo on Saturday, he said a strong and prosperous China can be a source of strength for all nations and the US did not want to "contain China."

Shen Dingli, executive dean of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, said people had high expectations over Obama's visit to China.

"We hope President Obama will form a deeper understanding of China with this trip," Shen said.

"It is important for him to see the hardship China bears to stimulate development, its relentless efforts to improve people's livelihood and its earnest determination to cooperate with other countries to solve global problems.

"China, which is working hard to make a contribution to world stability, hopes to win respect and support from President Obama."

Global climate change, trade disputes, currency policy, and the North Korean nuclear issue are reported to be among the topics that Obama will discuss with President Hu Jintao and other Chinese leaders.

In the view of Patrick Mendis, a former American diplomat and a visiting scholar in foreign policy at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, growing bilateral business is an ultimate way to boost cooperation and trust.

"Increasing global trade and promoting business opportunities for American products, investments, services and ideas is a complicated gambit in the least pronounced doctrine of President Barack Obama," Mendis said.

"His trademark policy of advancing 'change' is ... designed to revitalize the economic foundation in the US, and to extend its strength to the growth and development of China and other countries."


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