Keep off Tibet, Taiwan, says Hu as US presses rights issues

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Friday, January 21, 2011

WASHINGTON - Chinese President Hu Jintao has sought to assuage concerns about his country’s rising economic and military power but made clear status of Tibet and Taiwan was off limit as US legislators strongly conveyed their concerns over Beijing’s trampling of human rights.

Suggesting that both countries as well as the world can benefit from enhanced US-China cooperation, he told an audience of American business leaders Thursday, Beijing is seeking closer ties and greater trust with the United States on a range of issues.

But relations between Washington and Beijing need to be governed by a belief in “equality” and “mutual respect”, he said and the US must recognize that Taiwan and Tibet are “issues that concern China’s territorial integrity and China’s core interests.”

We are building “a socialist country under the rule of law,” Hu said.

Earlier in the day, Hu travelled to Capitol Hill, where congressional leaders used the occasion to raise strong concerns about Beijing’s commitment to human rights and economic issues such as the protection of intellectual property.

Hu met with Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Republican House Speaker John Boehner among others. Neither man attended Wednesday night’s White House state dinner in honour of the Chinese leader.

Boehner noted that concerns related to tensions on the Korean peninsula also were raised during Thursday’s talks. We had “a good meeting,” Boehner said. “I would hope that the dialogue on all of these subjects would continue.”

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi brought up the issue of Tibet and conveyed “the concerns … on both sides of the

aisle” over the continued detention of Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo, she said in a statement.

Disagreements over human rights — including China’s treatment of Liu — were “raised very strongly,” according to Howard Berman, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“I would not indicate there was great engagement … other than a general recognition by the president of China that they have a ways to go,” Berman told reporters.

From Washington, Hu travels to Chicago, where he plans to visit a Chinese-owned auto-parts factory to stress that China creates US jobs, rather than destroying them.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at

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