Human rights, Tibet, Taiwan to figure in Bush-Hu talks

Beijing, Nov 18 | Updated: Nov 19 2005, 07:00am hrs
Three hyper-sensitive issues to China - human rights, Taiwan and Tibet - will be high on the agenda of US President George W Bush when he arrives here on Saturday for a summit with Chinese President Hu Jintao to stabilise their complex relations which are marked by mutual suspicions.

Bush has already told Beijings Communist party leaders that he expects more openness, political rights and religious freedoms for 1.3 billion Chinese people who are now enjoying unprecedented economic prosperity.

In remarks sure to annoy Beijing ahead of his three-day visit starting November 19, Bush said China was an example of a society that had taken steps toward more openness but had not yet completed the journey.

As China reforms its economy, its leaders are finding that once the door to freedom is opened even a crack, it cannot be closed, Bush said in a speech in Japan, a key military ally of the US with whom China is having serious political differences over Tokyos new role in Asia as well as its militaristic past during World War II.

During president Bushs visit to China, views will be exchanged on an extensive range of issues, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said on Thursday.

We expect that Bushs visit will increase consensus, step up mutual trust, expand exchange and cooperation, and promote Sino-US constructive and cooperative relations in 21st century in an all-round way, Liu said.

On Bushs remarks in Kyoto on Tuesday, which touched upon Sino-US ties, human rights and religion, Liu said China pursues a path of peaceful development.

Claming that Beijing has made remarkable progress in the field of human rights, Liu said the Chinese people, in accordance with laws, enjoy all various kinds of democracy and freedom, including the freedom in religious belief.

All countries should hold exchanges and dialogues on human rights on the principled basis of equality, mutual respect and non-intervention in internal affairs, the spokesman said. PTI

Bush also upset Beijing by raising the Taiwan issue, the core sticking point in US-China relations during his speech in Japan. Modern Taiwan is free and democratic and prosperous. By embracing freedom at all levels, taiwan has delivered prosperity to its people and created a free and democratic Chinese society, Bush said.

Chinese President Hu is likely to press Bush to reiterate the One China policy and not to send wrong signals to the pro-independence-minded government in Taipei by selling more sophisticated weapons, analysts say.

Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. However, the United States continues to be the main ally and main defence supplier of the cash-rich island which beijing views as a rebel province that must be reunified with the mainland, even by force.

In his first term as US president, Bush had said that he would do what it takes to defend Taiwan. At the same time, he also asked Taipei to refrain from taking steps that might provoke China. The Bush administration has reiterated that neither side should alter the current status quo and said the taiwan issue must be solved peacefully.