Enter Mr Jiang, through the red door

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The Independent Online

TWO CHINESE dissidents were arrested last night as a week of protests began against the first visit to Britain of the Chinese President, Jiang Zemin.

TWO CHINESE dissidents were arrested last night as a week of protests began against the first visit to Britain of the Chinese President, Jiang Zemin.

Shui Li and Li Nan Wu, both veterans of Tiananmen Square who went into exile, were arrested when they refused to stop demonstrating outside the Hyde Park Hotel, where the President was spending his first night in London before moving to Buckingham Palace when his visit begins officially today.

Police said that protesting was banned on royal parkland and insisted that a small crowd of protesters move to the front of the hotel, well out of sight of the President. Some 200 pro-Chinese government supporters, waving Union Jacks and Chinese flags, were allowed to remain near the rear of the hotel. A police officer said their presence was considered a welcome, not a protest.

Downing Street said Tony Blair will raise his concerns about China's human rights record with Mr Jiang. The Prime Minister's official spokesman said, however, that Mr Blair "did not want our relationship with China to be solely defined by these issues.

"There is a broader dimension," he added.

Mr Blair and the President are due to hold talks at Downing Street on Thursday about Sino-British trade links and bi-lateral relations.

Several groups plan demonstrations during the President's four-day visit. Amnesty International and the Free Tibet Campaign say they will protest outside Buckingham Palace tonight when Mr Jiang will be among 180 guests at a state banquet.

Alison Reynolds, the director of the Free Tibet Campaign, said: "We feel it is totally inappropriate for the President to be entertained by the Queen and Tony Blair while the human rights issue is brushed under the carpet."

The former prime minister Sir Edward Heath, however, said the visit must be used to reverse the "appalling damage" caused by Nato's mistaken bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade on 7 May. He said the feeling persisted in China that the bombing was intentional. Writing in the parliamentary magazine House, Sir Edward said: "The West must now work hard to recompense the Chinese for the harm done by this episode."

Mr Jiang's schedule includes visits to the Millennium Dome, the Globe Theatre and Cambridge University Library, as well as meetings with political leaders.

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