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<-Back to WTN Archives Chinese Leader Hu Visits Chirac in Paris (AP)
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World Tibet Network News

Published by the Canada Tibet Committee

Monday, January 26, 2004

3. Chinese Leader Hu Visits Chirac in Paris (AP)

JOHN LEICESTER, Associated Press Writer

PARIS 26 Jan 2004, (AP)- Human rights took the spotlight Monday as China's leader arrived in France, with European ministers considering Beijing's request that they lift an arms embargo imposed after the killing of Tiananmen Square protesters in 1989.

France hoped the visit of President Hu Jintao would strengthen its ties with the world's fastest growing economy and Asia's rising power. President Jacques Chirac greeted Hu personally at the foot of the Air China Boeing 747 after it touched down at Orly Airport.

Hu, accompanied by his wife, Liu Yongqing, inspected a military honor guard as a band played the Chinese national anthem, "March of the Volunteers," followed by the French anthem, the "Marseillaise."

China is looking to France, one of its warmest friends in Europe, for help in improving relations with the European Union .

But human rights, a key concern in the country that spawned the declaration of the rights of man in 1789, overshadowed the official agenda. In protest at perceived Chinese abuses, some lawmakers said they would boycott Hu's address to the French parliament on Tuesday.

"Nothing obliges us to listen to him who leads the world's biggest dictatorship," Lionnel Luca, a lawmaker from President Jacques Chirac's UMP party, said on France-Info radio.

"China is not the smiling face it seems."

Rather than hear Hu, Luca would join protesters against China's policies in Tibet at a demonstration scheduled to coincide with the speech, said Luca's parliamentary aide, Marie Huteau.

Ahead of Hu's arrival, China urged the EU to swiftly decide whether to lift its 15-year arms embargo imposed after Beijing's bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square.

EU foreign ministers were to discuss the issue but were not expected to make a final decision at a two-day meeting starting Monday. France and Germany, the two leading EU powers, have said they are open to ending the ban. Hu was expected to address the issue during his three-day visit to France. China said embargo was not good for ties.

"China believes the ban on the military sales does not compound the good momentum in the development of the relationship between China and the EU," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said in a statement. "China hopes the EU will take measures to lift the ban as soon as possible."

China's economic growth, its increasing interdependence with Europe and the reconstruction of Iraq will be on the agenda of Hu's trip marking the 40th anniversary of relations with France, one of its oldest allies. In his address to the French parliament — a rare privilege for a world leader — Hu is expected to talk about China's growth and foreign policy.

Trade between China and France last year exceeded $13 billion, a 61 percent increase over 2002, according to Chinese figures.

"Forty years of the intensifying cooperation has further proved that nations different in ideology, system, culture and traditions could coexist in harmony and for mutual benefits," Zhao Jinjun, the Chinese ambassador to France, was quoted as saying in a Monday article by the official Xinhua News Agency.

But France lags behind some of its European partners in China's megamarket and feels that its economic relations with Beijing are not on par with its political ones.

To further cement economic ties, Hu is expected to sign a joint operating agreement between China's TCL and France's Thomson SA, a venture that would create the world's top TV maker — with an expected annual revenue of more than $3.5 billion.

Iraq's reconstruction will be discussed. France and China, both permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, opposed the U.S.-led attack that over threw Saddam Hussein 's regime.

Hu was arriving in a France gripped with an interest for things Chinese. France has dubbed 2004 the "Year of China," with a series of exhibitions, dance shows and other events to celebrate China's ancient culture that counts Asia-phile President Chirac among its many admirers.

Chirac will escort Hu on Tuesday to visit the Eiffel Tower.

This will be Hu and Chirac's third meeting: Hu visited France as vice president in 2001, and again last summer as a guest of Chirac at a meeting of the G8 group of major industrial powers.

Hu also will visit Egypt, Gabon and Algeria during his trip, which lasts until Feb. 4.

Articles in this Issue:
  1. Chained Protestors Blockade Chinese Consulate (SFT)
  2. Paul Simon interviews Dalai Lama for documentary (AFP)
  3. Chinese Leader Hu Visits Chirac in Paris (AP)
  4. France eyes China's economy during president's visit (AFP)
  5. Mission: Social harmony (TOI)

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