- The Washington Times - Friday, April 21, 2006

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Chinese President Hu Jintao wrapped up his four-day U.S. tour yesterday at Yale University, where he pledged continued cooperation with the United States.

Mr. Hu answered two questions from the crowd during his speech, both of which had been submitted in advance. He was asked whether China was concerned that limiting political freedom would cause social unrest that could undermine economic growth.

He said China is committed to democracy.

“China’s political system suits its economic development,” Mr. Hu said.

Mr. Hu opened his speech by quipping, “If time could go back several decades, I would really like to be a student of Yale, just like you.”

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

A CNN reporter was thrown out of the welcoming ceremony after he shouted a question about whether Mr. Hu had seen the protesters gathered on City Green, school officials said. Yale spokeswoman Helene Kalsky said the reporter was thrown out because he was invited “to cover an event, not to hold a press conference.”

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

“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 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.

Mr. Hu met with Mr. Bush in Washington on Thursday, and the two leaders said it was a productive summit.

The two pledged cooperation but did not break new ground on resolving the economic issues, including the U.S. trade deficit with China.

U.S. critics of China’s trade policies were unimpressed.

“The president failed to make any significant progress in talks with his Chinese counterpart,” said Kevin Kearns, president of the U.S. Business and Industry Council, which represents about 1,500 small and medium-sized manufacturing companies.

Many American manufacturers contend that the Chinese yuan is undervalued by as much as 40 percent, making Chinese products cheaper for American consumers and American goods more expensive in China.

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 Mr. Bush later apologized.

Mr. 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.

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