THE TIMES: Q&A: the visit of China's vice-president

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Monday October 29 2001

Hu Jintao, the vice-president of China, arrived in Britain yesterday for a five-day visit.
What do we know about Hu Jintao?
This is the vice-president's first official visit to the West. He's spending five days in Britain and also going to all the main continental European countries. People are keen to find out as much about him as they can, as he's tipped to become the next Chinese leader. We do know that he was the First Secretary for Tibet in the 1980s and that he
oversaw the imposition of martial law there. He came out very forcefully in support of the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1988. But despite his hardline reputation he's known to be a good negotiator who is open to Western ideas.
He's also a protégé of Deng Xiaoping, the father of Chinese reform.

What's on the agenda for the vice-president's visit to Britain?
He will be holding talks with Tony Blair and meeting the Queen, as well as taking a boat trip to Greenwich and travelling on the Tube. Later in the week he is going to Scotland. This is really a "getting-to-know-him" session. Mr Jintao will also be meeting industrialists, particularly representatives of BP, which has big investments in China.

Are there likely to be protests about this visit?
There have been protests every time Mr Jiantao has appeared in public ..
The Government was very embarrassed following President Jiang Zemin's visit in 1999, when it emerged that the Foreign Office advised the police to suppress ..protests. Police vans were used to shield the President from the sight of protests and a number of demonstrators were arrested. But the demonstrators took the police to court
and their complaint was upheld. On this occasion the Foreign Office has said that peaceful protest will be allowed.


Will the Prime Minister pressure Mr Jintao on human rights? Human rights issues will come up, of course, as they always do. Tony Blair will mention the occupation of Tibet and action against dissidents in China, particularly on members of the Falun Gong [group], which has been banned.

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