- The Washington Times - Monday, May 25, 2009

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BEIJING | House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a longtime critic of Beijing’s rule over Tibet and its human rights record, arrived in China on Sunday for a trip focused on energy and climate change.

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Susan Stevenson confirmed that Mrs. Pelosi had arrived in Shanghai but could not say whom the California Democrat was going to meet in the country’s financial hub.

Mrs. Pelosi is scheduled to attend a clean energy forum in Beijing on Tuesday along with Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Other details of her itinerary were not immediately known.

Mr. Kerry arrived Sunday in Xi’an, the capital of the northern province of Shaanxi, where he was holding official meetings and visiting the country’s famed Terracotta Warriors, Ms. Stevenson said.

He will travel to Tianjin, a large city near Beijing, on Monday to do some clean energy-related work before heading to China’s capital for the forum with Mrs. Pelosi, she added.

Before her trip, Mrs. Pelosi - who is leading a delegation from a key energy and environment committee - declined to say whether she would press Beijing on human rights ahead of the 20th anniversary of the bloody Tiananmen Square crackdown.

“The purpose of the trip is to follow up on meetings we’ve had here with the representatives of the Chinese government on the subject of climate change and energy and how that relates to our economy,” she said.

Mrs. Pelosi has been a vocal critic of China’s rule of Tibet, drawing the wrath of Beijing. She also led a U.S. congressional delegation in unfurling a banner during a 1991 visit to Tiananmen Square that read, in English and Chinese, “To those who died for democracy in China.”

In March last year, when riots against Chinese rule erupted in the Tibetan capital Lhasa and then spread to nearby provinces, Mrs. Pelosi urged “freedom-loving people” in the world to “speak out against China’s oppression in Tibet.” In October, she commended the European Parliament for its “bold decision” to award the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought to Chinese human rights activist Hu Jia.

But Jia Qingguo, a professor at the School of International Studies at Peking University, said Mrs. Pelosi’s visit highlighted an improvement in relations between China and the United States.

“She has always been quite tough on Chinese policy, so her visit definitely shows that the two countries’ relations are in a stable state,” he said.

Mrs. Pelosi, who will meet with her counterpart Wu Bangguo during her visit, is due to stay in China until May 31.

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