China: UK failed to stop protests

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The Independent Online

The Chinese President's visit to Britain was plunged into fresh controversy last night when Jiang Zemin's official spokesman complained that the British government had not done enough to suppressprotests in London.

The Chinese President's visit to Britain was plunged into fresh controversy last night when Jiang Zemin's official spokesman complained that the British government had not done enough to suppressprotests in London.

After a week of heavy handed policing which has seen police rugby-tackling dissidents in The Mall and the Strand, the Government sought to avoid any embarrassment by allowing President Jiang to slip into Downing Street by a side road to avoid the protesters as he met Tony Blair. However, that failed to impress the Chinese delegation, who had warned the Swiss on an earlier visit that they had "lost a friend" for failing to controldemonstrators.

President Jiang's official spokesman, Zhu Bangzhao, said the Government could have done more to limit the protests. "During the visit there have been some interruptions. We have taken note of the fact that the British side have taken necessary measures in addressing these issues. It is our view that some of these interruptive factors should have been avoided," he said.

The protesters included a Liberal Democrat MP, Norman Baker, who said he was "disgusted" at the suppression of the protests against the "butcher" of Tibet. They could not suppress the noise of demonstrators who shouted: "Shame on you Tony Blair." But Downing Street refused to allow a letter to be handed in by Amnesty International, signed by Wei Jingsheng, the democracy campaigner, and Alison Reynolds of the Free Tibet campaign.

Mr Blair's official spokesman said President Jiang had raised the issue of human rights before Mr Blair. Much of their talk over lunch - attended by Rupert Murdoch - was also on Tibet, he said. President Jiang was prepared for an open dialogue on issues such as Tibet as part of a new relationship between China and Britain.

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