BEIJING (AP) — President Barack Obama says his priority when it comes to pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong is to ensure that violence is avoided.

Obama is speaking in Beijing about protests that erupted in September in Hong Kong demanding open nominations in the city's elections. Obama says China isn't in the same place as the U.S. when it comes to development. But he says it would be unrealistic for the U.S. to set aside its concerns about human rights.

He says the U.S. won't stop speaking out about the things it cares about.

Obama says the U.S. doesn't expect China to follow the U.S. model in all circumstances. He says China's relationship with Hong Kong has historically been complicated.

Obama's comments come on the first day of a three-day visit to China.