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Chinese PM Ends Washington Visit on Upbeat Note - 2003-12-10


China's Prime Minister ends his Washington visit on an upbeat note, emphasizing the friendship between his country and the United States. Meanwhile protesters demonstrated outside the venue - both against and in favor of the Chinese government.

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said he was happy with his trip to Washington. "Up to now, I can say my visit has been successful." Mr. Wen's comments came in a speech at a dinner Tuesday night, hosted by the U.S.-China Business Council and the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations.

Earlier at the White House, President Bush repeated the U.S. position opposing independence for Taiwan, an island China regards as part of Chinese territory. Mr. Wen praised President Bush for sending what the Chinese leader described as a loud and clear signal to the whole world, against Taiwan independence.

The nearly 70 people demonstrating outside the hotel to welcome the Chinese leader were drowned out by more than two hundred protesters who shouted about issues like Taiwan and Tibet.

Liu-Hsiung Chuang, of the Taiwan-American Association, denounced the Chinese leader for re-emphasizing a threat to use force to keep Taiwan from declaring independence. "We come here to express our indignation that Wen Jiabao has no right to speak like that, to threaten Taiwanese and to intend to interfere with the choice of Taiwanese for their own future," he said.

Another demonstrator, Lhadon Tethong, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet, had a hoarse voice from following the Chinese prime minister all around New York. Ms. Tethong said her group's aim is to raise awareness for the plight of Tibetans in Tibet, which is part of Chinese territory.

"Tibetans will follow these visiting Chinese leaders and we'll embarrass them and we'll be there to speak their [Tibetans] truth to the power of the Chinese government, in free countries like the United States and Canada and New Zealand, and everywhere they [Chinese leaders] travel," she said.

Activists say they are certain human rights issues are raised whenever American and Chinese officials meet. But they acknowledge that other issues, like Taiwan and trade, are currently dominating the bilateral agenda, and that human rights discussions at this point, may be nothing more than polite talk.

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