11/20/2005

CTV.ca | Bush presses China on expanding freedoms

U.S. President George Bush called on Beijing to expand religious, political and social freedoms on Sunday as Chinese President Hu Jintao pledged to shrink his country's trade surplus with the United States.

Bush's first public event during his two-day state visit to China was a worship service at one of five officially recognized Protestant churches in Beijing.

The White House said it was Bush's way of showing his support for expressions of faith in the communist nation.

Bush and Chinese president Hu Jintao met for talks at the Great Hall of the People on the edge of Beijing's Tiananmen Square.

"We've given China a list of dissidents that we believe are unfairly imprisoned," Bush told reporters, who were not permitted to ask questions during the joint appearance by the two leaders.

He also said he urged Chinese officials to invite Roman Catholic leaders and the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader from Tibet, to China to discuss religious freedom.

"President Hu is a thoughtful fellow and he listened to what I had to say," Bush said.

"It was very interesting in his comments that he talked about human rights. Those who watch China closely would say that maybe a decade ago a leader wouldn't have uttered those comments."

The talks came at a time of mounting American frustration over China's trade surplus, which is en route to hit $200 billion this year.

Hu said he and his American counterpart have agreed to co-operate to reduce their trade imbalance.

"The two sides also expressed their willingness to join hands together to gradually achieve a balance of trade between China and the United States," Hu said through a translator.


CTV.ca | Bush presses China on expanding freedoms

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