Chinese President Hu caps U.S. tour


NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) – China will make its own decisions on political freedom and human rights and not simply copy the model of Western countries, President Hu Jintao said Friday as he wound up his U.S. tour.

With protesters against his Communist rule kept several blocks away, Hu told students and faculty at Yale University that differences between China and the United States can be overcome by cooperation and their shared desire for peace.

But when asked whether his country’s restrictions on political expression would cause unrest and hinder its economic growth, he said China was committed to democracy but had no plans to simply import other countries’ policies.

“On one hand, we are ready and willing to draw on the useful experience of foreign countries into political involvement,” he said. “On the other hand, we will not simply copy the political models of other countries.” The question was one of a couple that Hu answered from among those submitted in advance in writing.

It was the last appearance by Hu on his four-day tour of the United States. On Thursday, he had met with President Bush in the White House.

Several blocks away, hundreds of protesters on the City Green waved signs and shouted anti-government slogans.

“When you get within 5,000 yards of one of these bigwigs, I think it’s your responsibility as a human being to try and tell them something,” said freshman Edwin Everhart, 19, coordinator of Amnesty International at Yale.

Pro-government demonstrators also waved signs, some reading: “Warmly Welcome Chairman Hu Jintao to the United States” and “Bring China-U.S. relations closer.”

Yale President Richard Levin met privately Friday morning with Hu, but like the Chinese leader’s earlier welcome in Washington, not everything went as planned.

A CNN reporter was thrown out of the ceremony after he shouted a question about whether Hu had seen the protesters gathered on the city green. Yale spokeswoman Helaine Klasky said the reporter was thrown out because he was invited “to cover an event, not to hold a press conference.”

Yale, President Bush’s alma mater, has long had ties to China. In the 1800s, it was the first U.S. university to graduate a Chinese student, and it now has more than 80 academic collaborations with Chinese institutions and offers 26 study sites in China.

Hu met with Bush in Washington on Thursday, and the two leaders said it was a productive summit meeting. They agreed to cooperate more closely on trade and nuclear tensions over Iran and North Korea.

Hu, aware of the growing U.S. impatience with America’s record $202 billion trade deficit with China, offered general promises to address the gap. But his comments were likely to do little to cool calls in Congress for punitive tariffs on Chinese products.

The welcoming ceremony in Washington earlier Thursday was marred by a security breach when a Falun Gong backer screamed at the Chinese president about persecution of the group. The woman had obtained a temporary White House pass, and Bush later apologized.

During his U.S. trip, Hu also visited Washington state and officials of Microsoft Corp. and Boeing Co. in an effort to emphasize support for expanded U.S. exports to China.