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Bush to Meet Chinese Vice President - 2002-05-01

President Bush meets with China's vice president at the White House Wednesday. It is a chance for U.S. officials to learn more about a man who is expected to take charge of China's Communist party later this year.

Vice President Hu Jintao's six-day trip to the United States is a follow-up to President Bush's February visit to Beijing which focused largely on the fight against terrorism.

Wednesday's meetings at the White House will also include trade issues involving China's entry into the World Trade Organization as well as regional security issues pertaining to the Korean Peninsula and Taiwan.

During his China trip, Mr. Bush asked President Jiang Zemin for help in re-opening talks with North Korea.

Those relations were strained when Mr. Bush included North Korea in a so-called "axis of evil" along with Iran and Iraq that he says threaten world peace because they could help terrorists acquire weapons of mass destruction.

The White House Tuesday said North Korea has agreed to resume talks, and U-S officials are working out the details of a meeting to discuss weapons exports and nuclear power.

On Taiwan, Chinese Vice President Hu is defending his government's claim on the island which it considers a rebellious province. While the Bush administration last year boosted military sales to Taiwan, it says the differences in approach are not an impediment to closer U.S. / Chinese relations.

Mr. Hu is likely to play a big part in those relations as he is expected to become chief of the Communist Party later this year and is the clear favorite to succeed President Jiang.

Mr. Hu is something of an enigma, even to many Chinese, as the 59-year-old hydraulic engineer has risen quickly through the ranks of Chinese leadership without leaving much of a mark.

He did impose martial law in Tibet during protests in the late 1980's. Those actions led protestors on this first trip to the United States to call on him to open talks with the region's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

Mr. Hu was in New York Monday where he visited the site of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. He completes his trip with a stopover in San Francisco Thursday.