Why the Red Carpet Welcome for Hu Jintao?

China's Hu Jintao arrived Tuesday at what is now officially called Joint Base Andrews outside Washington and he got the full red-carpet treatment. But along with the diplomatic niceties of this state visit comes a whole lot of tension on a variety of issues chief among them, money.

Ten years ago there were six furniture companies in Galax, Virginia -- now John Bassett's is the only one left. The reason he says is unfair competition from China, reports CBS News chief White House correspondent Chip Reid.

"I think we need to quit dodging the fact that they are a manipulator of their currency," said Bassett.

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Because the Chinese government keeps its currency weak, Chinese furniture makers can sell their products for about 25 percent less than American companies. Currency manipulation is only number three on the administration's list of economic complaints -- number two is China's refusal to open markets to U.S. goods. And number one is China's massive theft of U.S. intellectual property, especially computer technology.

The White House insists President Obama will have tough words for President Hu, but with little leverage to force China to do anything expectations for this summit are low.

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"There's not much additional pressure that either side is going to put on the other," said Charles Freeman.

President Obama will also urge China to do more to stop North Korea's and Iran's nuclear weapons programs. The White House promises "firm talk" on human rights, but with so many strong disagreements, some critics ask why China should get the high honor of a state dinner. The White House says it's primarily because China is vital to U.S. economic growth.

"Being on track to export more than $100 billion in goods and services to China this year," said White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.

The White House says all those exports support hundreds of thousands of jobs in the U.S. So they say despite all the disputes, it is worth rolling out the red carpet for China.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.