- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 20, 2006

Chinese President Hu Jintao said last night that China needs stability at home and abroad if it is to continue its economic miracle, arguing that the United States should not see China’s emergence as a global economic powerhouse as a threat.

In a speech to a top-drawer audience of Washington business and policy leaders, Mr. Hu said his policy of “peaceful development” was rooted in China’s past and critical to China’s future.

Peaceful development “is a national trait fostered over several thousand years of Chinese history,” Mr. Hu said, speaking through a translator.

“A peaceful international environment is a prerequisite for our development in the future,” he added.

The Chinese leader offered only the blandest summary of his talks with President Bush earlier in the day. He referred briefly to two of the hottest international crises of the moment, saying diplomacy should be given a chance to work in both the Iranian and North Korean nuclear crises.

But Mr. Hu also gave the most extended and forceful remarks of his four-day U.S. trip on Taiwan, calling the island a “core interest” for China and saying Beijing would “never allow” Taiwan to break with the mainland “under any name or any form.”

He referred only obliquely to complaints about China’s record on human rights and civil liberties, saying democracy would advance as China prospers. But he also insisted that Chinese citizens “fully enjoy freedom of [religious] belief” and said historical, cultural and economic factors should be respected in judging a country’s human rights record.

The dinner for Mr. Hu was co-hosted by a dozen top Washington think tanks and business lobbies, with more than 60 businesses listed as underwriters of the event. Among the sponsors: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the U.S.-China Business Council, the Brookings Institution and the Council on Foreign Relations.

Nearly 900 guests dined on walnut-crusted sea bass, filet mignon and baby bok choy in the packed ballroom of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel where Mr. Hu spoke.

Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger introduced Mr. Hu. Among those in the audience were former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and former National Security Advisers Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski.

The speech was Mr. Hu’s only planned public address during his two-day stay in Washington.

Outside the hotel, small groups of pro- and anti-Hu demonstrators held up posters and signs. Mr. Hu last night made no mention of the incident at the White House when a Falun Gong journalist interrupted his remarks to protest repression in China.

He leaves Washington today to deliver a speech to China scholars at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. The speech is expected to develop even more of the domestic pressures China faces as its pursues its peaceful development program.

Although the Yale speech is not expected to contain any hard policy pronouncements, “it’s going to be his most important public speech given here,” said Minxin Pei, a China scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“He’s calling for harmonious society within China and a harmonious [relationship] with the rest of the world. He is trying to allay fears about China’s rise. They are afraid that China’s growing capabilities in the economy and in military areas are causing concerns around the world,” Mr. Pei said.

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