Demonstrators Mass for Bush-Hu Meeting
Demonstrators Mass for Bush-Hu Meeting
By MARTIN CRUTSINGER, AP Economics Writer 3 minutes
WASHINGTON - While President Bush and Chinese
President Hu Jintao hoped their discussions inside the
White House would cool tensions over a yawning
U.S.-China trade gap, demonstrators massed outside
Thursday to protest Beijing's human rights policies.
The talks between Bush and Hu, who was visiting the
Washington for the first time as China's leader, were
expected to produce little in the way of substance on
the trade dispute and no breakthroughs on the major
irritant China's tightly controlled currency.
After two days spent wooing American business leaders
in Washington state, Hu arrived Wednesday night in
Washington for the half-day summit for what were
expected to be frank discussions about America's $202
billion trade deficit with China, the biggest ever
recorded with a single country.
That imbalance has spurred calls in Congress to impose
punitive tariffs on Chinese products unless China
halts trade practices that critics contend are unfair
and have contributed to the loss of nearly 3 million
U.S. manufacturing jobs since 2001.
The visit attracted high-profile attention both inside
and outside the White House gates. The spiritual
movement Falun Gong, condemned by the Chinese
government as an evil cult, gathered hundreds of
demonstrators on street corners near the White House
in the early morning. Marchers banged gongs, chanted
and waved American and Chinese flags. Banners
denounced Hu as a "Chinese dictator" responsible for
genocide and other "crimes in Chinese labor camps and
The Chinese government had its say as well. In a
median in front of the Chinese embassy, the Falun Gong
protesters that are nearly always there had been
replaced by Chinese supporters holding huge
red-and-yellow banners offering to "warmly welcome" Hu
on his American visit.
There were some obvious signs that the summit was not
considered on the U.S. side as a "state visit." Though
the Chinese flag flew over Blair House, the official
guest quarters for visiting dignitaries across the
street from the White House, lamp posts surrounding
the compound were bare of the usual pairing of flags
from the United States and its guest country.
In addition to trade, Bush was to raise a number of
other issues with Hu, including a bid for China's help
in dealing with current nuclear standoffs with North
Korea and Iran, complaints about China's human rights
record and questions over China's growing military
strength and whether it poses a threat to Taiwan.
The two sides have even disputed what to call the
visit, with the Chinese insisting that it is a "state
visit," which was the designation former President
Jiang Zemin received in 1997, or an "official visit,"
the designation the Bush administration is using for
While Hu was not receiving a black-tie state dinner,
he was being greeted by a 21-gun salute on the South
Lawn of the White House and a formal lunch for China's
first family, with music supplied by a Nashville
For his part, Hu has carried on a tradition started by
Deng Xiaoping on his first visit to the United States
in 1979 of courting American business executives in
recognition of the fact that the United States is
China's biggest overseas market.
Hu had dinner at the home of Microsoft Corp. Chairman
Bill Gates on Tuesday and on Wednesday he received a
warm welcome from employees at Boeing Co.'s massive
Everett, Wash., facilities.
Last week, a contingent of more than 200 Chinese trade
officials and business executives toured the United
States, signing sales contracts for $16.2 billion in
American goods, including 80 Boeing jetliners, all in
an effort to show that China is trying to bring down
the massive trade gap between the two nations.
White House officials said in advance of Thursday's
meetings that they did not expect any major
announcements on currency or other trade issues,
noting that China did make several commitments last
week such as requiring that all personal computers
sold in China be loaded with legal software and
agreeing to drop a ban on imports of U.S. beef.
Some small progress may be made in the area of energy,
where China's rapidly growing economy has increased
global demand for crude oil, pushing prices higher,
and sent China rushing to lock up sources of supply in
such questionable areas as Sudan, Burma and Iran.
But without movement on the currency problem,
congressional critics are likely to be unimpressed
with the results of the meeting.
On the Net:
U.S. Trade Representative: http://www.ustr.gov
CIA's World Factbook site on China: http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/geos/ch.html