The New York Times: In six hours of meetings, at two dinners and during a stilted 30-minute news conference in which President Hu Jintao did not allow questions, President Obama was confronted, on his first visit, with a fast-rising China more willing to say no to the United States. On topics like Iran (Mr. Hu did not publicly discuss the possibility of sanctions), China's currency (he made no nod toward changing its value) and human rights (a joint statement bluntly acknowledged that the two countries "have differences"), China held firm against most American demands."
The Washington Post adds, "President Obama has emerged from his first trip to China with no big breakthroughs on important issues, such as Iran's nuclear program or China's currency. Yet after two days of talks with the United States' biggest creditor, the administration asserted that relations between the two countries are at 'an all-time high.'"
"A must-see for presidents from President Richard Nixon on, the Great Wall was one of Obama's major sightseeing stops during his diplomatic tour of Asia. He later traveled to Seoul, South Korea, the final stop of his eight-day trip," the AP writes. Dressed in a winter jacket against a biting wind at the Great Wall, Obama led a knot of people for a half-hour jaunt up the crenelated wall toward a watchtower, a restored section originally built 500 years ago."
The president has arrived in South Korea, and the Washington Post previews his agenda in Seoul. "President Obama, who arrived here Wednesday night on the final stop of his East Asia tour, will grapple with two longstanding U.S. concerns on the Korean Peninsula, one in the nuclear-armed North and the other here in the trade-dependent South."
Meanwhile, Secretary of State Clinton has arrived in Afghanistan for Karzai's inauguration. Per NBC's Sue Kroll, she was greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, Envoy Richard Holbrooke, and Deputy US Ambassador Frank Riccardione.
A new Quinnipiac poll has Obama's job approval at 48%, the first time he has dropped below 50% in the Q-Poll.
"There were no goofs, gaffes or slips of the tongue of the kind that have gotten Biden in trouble during his career," the New York Daily News writes of the vice president's appearance on Jon Stewart's show last night. "Instead, the vice president was mostly vice presidential. Smiling often and clearly at ease, Biden, led by Stewart's questions, focused on defending the Obama administration's ambitious policies from resuscitating the economy to health care reform."
Efforts in Congress to cap credit-card interest rates are faltering because of opposition from Democrats and a lack of specific support from the White House, despite growing consumer outrage over a rush by banks to impose rates as high as 30 percent," the Boston Globe says. During the 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama vowed to back a strict limit on credit-card interest rates. But the White House is not yet behind any particular plan this year. While Obama has chastised credit-card companies, his spokeswoman declined to say this week how he planned to follow through on his campaign pledge… Vice President Joe Biden, whose home state of Delaware is headquarters to many credit-card companies, did not respond to requests for comment."