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Chinese President Begins Official Visit to Canada

  • Craig McCulloch

The President of the People's Republic of China, Hu Jintao, has begun an official visit to Canada. Trade, investment and human rights are among the issues being addressed during the trip.

On his first full day in Canada, the Chinese President held a private meeting with top Canadian government officials. After meeting in Ottawa, the country's capital, President Hu Jintao and Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin watched officials sign several bilateral agreements and talked with media.

During the multi-city tour across Canada the Chinese official will also visit Toronto, picturesque Niagara Falls and the west coast city of Vancouver. During this time he will also take side trips to Mexico City and the United Nations in New York.

Many human rights organizations are promising to hold protests in those Canadian cities during Mr. Hu's visit.

Prime Minister Martin said he had a thorough discussion with Mr. Hu about his concerns regarding human rights in China and his desire for improvement.

Mr. Martin said he voiced particular concern about Tibet and the Falun Gong spiritual sect. He said he called for "greater freedom of expression, association, religion and faith", in China.

The Canadian Prime Minister also reiterated support for a one-china policy, but repeated his opposition to the use of force against Taiwan.

In response, Mr. Hu again rejected Taiwanese independence. He said China is improving its record on human rights, but the two countries may view the issue differently.

China and Canada also signed agreements that will see increased collaboration on nuclear energy, more direct flights between the two countries, purchase of Canadian train parts, and sharing of scientific research.

For the rest of his Canadian trip, Mr. Hu will meet with local political and business leaders during each stop. The tour wraps up in Vancouver at a luncheon on September 17.