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Old Saturday, April 29, 2006
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Post Serious diplomatic gaffes mar Chinese president's visit

Washington: It does not get much worse for China's President Hu Jintao than being heckled inside the White House by a pro-Falun Gong supporter on his first official visit to this country. That is, of course, if one discounts China being introduced as Republic of China, the name used by Taiwan.

Both these diplomatic disasters hit Hu's visit to the White House Thursday during the official welcoming ceremony at the South Lawn of the White House. A credentialed journalist of Chinese origin heckled the Chinese leader reportedly telling him that "Your days are numbered" and asking President George W. Bush to help stop persecution of the Falun Gong members.

The Falun Gong is a spiritual movement that was banned in China in 1999. There have been many reports of the Falun Gong members being tortured by the Chinese authorities.

The protester practically shrieked, startling both Bush and Hu, the latter having just begun his address. He was heckled just as he was saying, "Mr. President. I wish to convey to the great American people the warm greetings and best wishes of the 1.3 billion Chinese people. I have come to enhance dialogues, expand common ground, deepen mutual trust and cooperation and to promote the all-around growth of constructive and cooperative China-U.S. relations in the 21st century."

According to the transcript on the White House, Bush asked his guest, "You are okay?" Hu, however, did not respond and continued with his address.

Earlier, while introducing the national anthem of China, the announcer said Republic of China instead of People's Republic of China. The former is being used by Taiwan with which Beijing has strained relations.

Referring to Taiwan, Bush said, "The United States will also be candid about our policy toward Taiwan. The United States maintains our one-China policy based on the three communiqués and the Taiwan Relations Act. We oppose unilateral changes in the status quo in the Taiwan Strait by either side, and we urge all parties to avoid confrontational or provocative acts. And we believe the future of Taiwan should be resolved peacefully."

In response, Hu said, "President Bush, you and the U.S. government have stated on various occasions that you are committed to the one-China policy, abide by the three Sino-U.S. joint communiqués, and oppose Taiwan independence. We appreciate your commitments."

To make his stand completely unambiguous he said, "Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory. We will continue to make every effort and endeavor with every sincerity to strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification of the two sides across the Taiwan Straits. We will work with our Taiwan compatriots to promote the peaceful development of cross-strait relations. However, we will never allow anyone to make Taiwan secede from China by any means."

The visit was particularly significant since both sides had been working on it for at least a year. Despite the embarrassing start, the two sides appeared to have recovered in the summit level talks. They agreed to cooperate more closely on fighting nuclear proliferation and trade imbalances.

According to The New York Times, Bush apologized to Hu for the morning fiasco. The Chinese side was reported to be quite miffed at it, as it cancelled a briefing by Chinese foreign ministry officials because of the incident.

On balance the visit did not produce any dramatic outcomes even as it was not expected to. No new agreements were announced even though the two sides agreed to cooperate in the areas of nuclear proliferation and issues such Iran's nuclear quest, violence in Darfur, Sudan.

On the economic side the two leaders discussed China's controversial currency policy which the US believes keeps the yuan artificially low as well as rampant piracy of American products and software. Some headway is expected on the two issues.

There was no word about the Tibet issue despite the fact that the Dalai Lama happens to be in the US currently. There had been some speculation about Hu and the Dalai Lama meeting, a suggestion dismissed by the Tibetan officials as "unrealistic."

plz pray,
God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed him! How shall we console ourselves, the most murderous of all murderers? The holiest and the mightiest that the world has hitherto possessed, has bled to death under our knife....
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