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Clinton in China Sunday, 28 June, 1998, 02:42 GMT 03:42 UK
Human rights flashpoints
Lone student attempts to stop tanks moments before oppression  of protests in Tiananmen Square
Tiananmen Square protests remain a factor in Sino-US relations

As expected, the issue of human rights is proving the most controversial aspect of President Clinton's visit. Domestic pressures on the US president will ensure that the following issues are raised, but both sides will be keen to make sure they do not dominate the agenda.

The Tiananmen dissidents
Tiananmen Square : Bill Clinton first US President to visit since 89
Tiananmen Square : Bill Clinton first US President to visit since 89
Bill Clinton is the first US president to visit China since the violent suppression of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

He has already aroused controversy in the United States by agreeing to China's request for a welcoming ceremony on Tiananmen Square itself - a site of immense symbolic importance both for China's democracy movement and its communist party.

Clinton has also been widely condemned for failing to plan any meetings with dissidents during his nine day visit.

More than 70 dissidents in China have signed an open letter calling on him to meet the parents of one of the students killed in 1989. The US government says such meetings might only lead to reprisals against those involved once the visit is over. There are reports that Clinton may instead try to get a human rights message through to a broader audience by raising the issue when he makes a radio broadcast in Shanghai.

Rule of Law
Richard Gere's film Red Corner highlights Rule of Law
Richard Gere's film Red Corner highlights Rule of Law
Richard Gere's latest film Red Corner portrays China as a brutal dictatorship where the individual is deprived of any legal rights, and President Clinton has promised to make the Rule of Law central to his efforts to press for change in China.

Beijing has welcomed some limited American cooperation in the reform of its legal system and the training of lawyers, earlier this month there was a joint Sino-US legal seminar in Beijing.

But human rights groups such as Amnesty International say there are still fundamental injustices in a system where there is no presumption of innocence and where in many cases the verdict is decided before the trial.

Prisons
Harry Wu, former inmate publicising Chinese prison conditions
Harry Wu, former inmate publicising Chinese prison conditions
Amnesty International has just listed 50 cases of political and human rights activists it said had been detained or arrested this year. It expressed particular concern about six people sentenced without trial to re-education through labour.

Harry Wu, an American Chinese who was once an inmate of one of China's huge complex of labour-camps, has been one of the leaders of a long running campaign to publicise this darker side of the legacy of 50 years of Chinese communism.

There have been frequent reports, denied by China, of prisoners being forced to make goods for export. Human rights groups say more attention should be paid by Washington to the many lesser known prisoners rather than to the high-profile cases like the recently released Wei Jingsheng and Wang Dan.

Tibet
Chinese mistreatment  of buddhist monks under scrutiny
Chinese mistreatment of buddhist monks under scrutiny
President Clinton will be going nowhere near Tibet - yet any discussions between American and Chinese officials on the subject of human rights are bound to include allegations of Chinese mistreatment of Buddhist monks and nuns and other supporters of the Dalai Lama.

The Tibetan spiritual leader fled into exile in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule. Beijing has continued to orchestrate a campaign in Tibet against the Dalai Lama, even as the popularity and fame of the Nobel peace prize winner has grown in the West.

No other topic succeeded in arousing louder or more colourful protests during last year's visit to the US by Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

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Philip Baker of the June 4th human rights group and Sir David Acres-Jones, former advisor to China, discuss the issue on Today
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