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China Rising: Hu Jintao Set to Dispel Suspicions in U.S. Visit

NCM, News Digest, Eugenia Chien Posted: Sep 16, 2005

SAN FRANCISCO--While the West has viewed China's rising with wariness, the Chinese press sees Chinese President Hu Jintao's visit to North America as a success, despite the fact that Hu's travel plans had been downgraded due to Hurricane Katrina. This is Hu's first U.S. visit since he became president in 2003.

Hu's visit has been closely followed by the Chinese press for months. His earlier plan to visit Bushs Crawford, Texas, ranch was cancelled in favor of the White House. But when Hurricane Katrina hit, both sides agreed that Hu would instead meet Bush on the sidelines of the U.N. summit meeting. Hu met with Bush on Sept. 14 in New York, where he discussed trade and pirating of intellectual property and invited Bush to visit Beijing in November.

Although Hu did not visit the White House as expected, many in the Chinese media did not view this as a setback. "In such problematic times (of Hurricane Katrina), Bush is facing a lot of pressure," Zhigang Chen, Washington correspondent for the Hong Kong-based Singtao Daily, told New California Media. "The presidents meeting on a red carpet, with all the pageantry of a state visit, is not good politically for Bush or Hu."

Before arriving in New York, Hu visited Mexico and Canada, where he stressed strengthening economic ties. He Yafie, a senior official at the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told China's Xinhua News Agency that Hu's visit would "deepen political trust and expand economic exchange."

Although Hu and Bush were expected to discuss trade and China's increasing need for oil, the issue of trust was pervasive in the media. At a press conference after the meeting, a White House spokesperson said that Hu discussed at length the issue of China's "peaceful rising." Concerns about China's rise as a world power have captured much media attention this year as China's state-owned oil company, China National Offshore Oil Corp., attempted unsuccessfully to acquire Unocal.

According to a Singtao Daily editorial on Sept. 14, before the two world wars, America's approach to China had a colonial tint. "Even when a poor country cooperates with a rich country, they can't necessarily establish a truly equal relationship," the paper said. China has worked hard at its ascension over the last 20 years, but its rising has been met with suspicion, according to the editorial. "The most important task of Hu Jintao's visit is to dispel these suspicions."

Commentators in Chinese media thought that, to a certain degree, Hu's visit effectively addressed the concern of trust. "Hu emphasized that China is a peaceful country and that its rising is peaceful," said Singtao Daily's Chen. "He delivered a strong message."

But Hu's visit was not met without opposition. Although hundreds of Chinese Americans greeted Hu in New York, protesters from Taiwan, Tibet, and practitioners of Falun Gong also lined the streets in front of Hu's hotel, according to a Sept. 14 report in the Singtao Daily.

Young Taiwanese men and women dressed in green, some wearing large green wigs (the color of the ruling political party in Taiwan), and held up signs that urged the acceptance of Taiwan into the United Nations. According to the Singtao report, hundreds more Taiwanese gathered on the street, holding signs in the shape of missiles that read, "China's missiles will kill 23 million Taiwanese."

Hundreds of Falun Gong practitioners staked a prime location near Hu's hotel, circling the street in vans equipped with bullhorns, urging people to leave the Chinese Communist Party.

However, though typically a thorn in U.S.-China relations, the issue of human rights and Taiwan were pushed down on the priority list during Hu's visit, according to Joe Wei, a correspondent at the national desk of the Taiwan-based World Journal. "Taiwan should have been a key issue, but because Hu is not talking to Bush directly at the White House, it became a secondary issue," Wei said in a phone interview.

According to the Taipei Times, Bush gave the Chinese side a list of specific human rights cases that concern the United States. But senior U.S. official Michael Green of the White House National Security Council would not give details of the cases. The United States wants to work with China quietly to resolve these cases, Green said.

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