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China's Hu to meet Bill Gates as US trip begins

Written by: Staff
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SEATTLE, Apr 19 (Reuters) Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived in Seattle on his way to a White House meeting with President George W.

Bush, and what is likely to be tough talk on trade and copyright piracy.

The highlight of Hu's four-day trip will be a summit tomorrow with Bush. On his first day in the country, he was to visit the campus of software giant Microsoft Corp and meet with its chairman, Bill Gates, the world's richest man.

In a statement given to reporters, Hu said US-Chinese relations were enjoying ''sound momentum of growth'' and the two nations were ''shouldering joint responsibility for promoting world peace and development.'' In Seattle's Chinatown, many storefronts hung Chinese and US flags to welcome Hu, but police also expected Falun Gong protesters to make their presence felt. The group, which promotes spiritual meditation, has been officially suppressed in China since 1999.

In Washington, DC, Hu will lunch at the White House where Bush said he would bring up Iran's nuclear program. The United States would like China to allow the UN Security Council to exert more pressure on Tehran.

''I intend of course to bring the subject up of Iranian ambitions to have a nuclear weapon,'' Bush said at the White House. ''We'll continue to work diplomatically to get this problem solved.'' FOCUS ON TRADE Gates said in a statement ahead of Hu's arrival that he was encouraged by Chinese efforts to protect intellectual property.

For years, US officials and business leaders have complained about Chinese piracy of US software, movies and music.

Before the visit, China sought to quell US trade complaints by signing contracts worth 16.2 billion dollars while Vice Premier Wu Yi visited the United States last week.

Bush, visiting a school in a Washington D C suburb, said China was both a partner and competitor.

''We can either look at China and say, let's compete with China in a fair way, or say, we can't compete with China and therefore kind of isolate ourselves from the world. I've chosen the former route for the United States,'' the president said.

But US Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick said Beijing had been ''agonizingly slow'' in meeting US demands to reform its currency. US officials say the yuan is undervalued, making Chinese exports artificially cheap.

The US trade deficit with China totaled 202 billion dollars last year.

John Frisbie, president of the US-China Business Council in Washington, D C, said he expected Hu would promise to tackle trade imbalances and copyright piracy but resist calls for a sharp rise in the yuan.

''We don't expect to see a large revaluation associated with this visit. We do expect to see a continual, gradual appreciation of the yuan over the balance of this year,'' Frisbie said.

Chinese officials have said recently that their country must move at its own pace and will not be pushed by Washington into sudden currency and trade changes.

Vice Premier Wu said it was ''unscientific'' to blame China alone for the bilateral trade gap.

Hu wants to ensure stable relations with Washington as he prepares for a major Communist Party Congress in 2007 and Beijing's 2008 Olympics, said Chinese academics and diplomats.

He also wants Bush to offer some assurance that the United States will restrain Taiwan's independence-leaning President Chen Shui-bian, Chinese analysts said. Beijing says the self-ruled island must accept reunification with the mainland after over half a century of separation.

REUTERS SC PM0455

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