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Cold shoulder for Bush's China comments

Bush and Jiang
Bush has told Chinese leaders the fight against terror does not mean persecution of minorities  

By By Alex Frew McMillan
CNN Shanghai

SHANGHAI, China (CNN) -- Chinese attendees listening to President George W. Bush's address to Asia-Pacific business leaders in Shanghai gave him a cold shoulder when he criticized their country.

They were largely supportive of the American leader, applauding many of his points as he painted the battle against terrorism in business terms.

But the welcome was not always warm.

Speaking to a gathering of executives in China's leading business city, Bush also said the fight should not be used as cover for the persecution of ethnic minorities.

The forces of creation, free markets and trade are aligned against a common foe, the forces of death and destruction, he said. But everyone needs to be free to participate, he added.

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"All peoples of every religion and ethnic group must be allowed to participate in the forces of progress," Bush said. "No government should use the fight against terrorism as an excuse to persecute minorities within their own borders."

The slap at China, which is fighting an internal battle against a Muslim separatist movement in western Xinjiang province, drew stares and silence from the many Chinese executives in attendance.

There was also a smattering of claps from Americans.

'World of diversity'

Bush was elaborating on a point he made on Friday in a three-hour meeting, his first, with China's President, Jiang Zemin.

"We've had a very broad discussion, including the fact that the war on terrorism must never be an excuse to persecute minorities," Bush said Friday.

Both leaders also brought up the biggest bone of contention between China and the United States, the status of Taiwan.

"We live in a world of diversity," Jiang noted at that event. So it's not surprising that there are disagreements between China and the United States.

The Chinese participants in the packed ballroom of the Shangri-La hotel, including hotel staff, were vociferous in applauding the American leader when he spoke about the way free trade and world markets would continue despite the September 11 attacks.

Bush also played to the crowd at times.

He praised the APEC host city of Shanghai for its improvements noting that the last time he was in the city was more than a quarter century ago, as a young man.

"I was here in 1975 with my mother. Shanghai has finally recovered," he joked.


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