- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 21, 2002

BEIJING President Bush, on his final leg of a three-nation Asia tour, today arrived in China to push its communist leader to allow religious freedom, cease persecution of dissidents and increase trade with America.
Mr. Bush met President Jiang Zemin today at the Great Hall of the People, just off Tiananmen Square, where in 1989 hundreds of pro-democracy Chinese students were gunned down by Chinese troops.
Mr. Jiang greeted Mr. Bush at the Great Hall this morning amid tight security before a contingent of 40 uniformed Chinese soldiers.
The two men reviewed the ceremonial honor guard and shook hands with members of each others' delegations, then went behind closed doors for their talks, which were expected to touch on such issues as the administration's proposal for a national missile-defense shield and China's exports of sensitive technology.
According to a senior White House official today, Mr. Bush and Mr. Jiang hope to complete an agreement on the proliferation of missile and nuclear technology to such states as Iraq and Pakistan.
The proposed pact involves China agreeing to publish a list of goods its companies are prohibited from exporting and then enforcing such a ban. In return, the United States would lift bans on U.S. companies launching satellites on Chinese rockets.
Mr. Bush invited the Chinese president to visit the United States in the autumn. Mr.Jiang accepted.
Another issue the talks are expected to include is China's record on human rights and freedom of religion. For example, dozens of Falun Gong members have been rounded up recently for practicing their meditative religion.
"In my last visit with President Jiang, I shared with him my faith," Mr. Bush said yesterday in Seoul. "I talked to him on very personal terms about my Christian beliefs."
"I explained to him that faith had an incredibly important part in my life, and it has a very important part in the lives of all kinds of citizens, and that I would hope that he, as a president of a great nation, would understand the important role of religion in an individual's life. That's why I put it in that context," Mr. Bush said.
The trip is Mr. Bush's second to China since taking office. He visited Shanghai in October for a summit of Asia-Pacific leaders.
The president is expected to push for increasing trade between both countries and opening up China's vast market to U.S. products.
"We've got to trade. I can't wait to talk to the Chinese leadership about getting them to honor their agreements for the American farmers and ranchers to be able to sell our foodstuffs into China," Mr. Bush said Saturday at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, before departing for his Asia trip.
Mr. Bush traveled to China from South Korea, where the president yesterday visited the Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas and told North Korea that "no nation should be a prison for its own people." Mr. Bush re-emphasized his designation of North Korea as part of an "axis of evil."
In his trip to China, the president is almost certain to discuss the military links that Beijing maintains not only with North Korea but also the other two countries that constitute the "axis of evil" Iran and Iraq.
Mr. Bush's visit to China came on the eve of the 30th anniversary of President Nixon's famous trip.

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