US visit begins on sour note

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The Independent Online
PEKING - The United States Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, arrived in Peking last night for key discussions on human rights just hours after another two dissidents had been detained by police in Shanghai, writes Teresa Poole. Yang Zhou, the most prominent dissident in Shanghai, was taken from his home, his wife said. Wang Fuchen, a human rights activist, was picked up earlier in the day.

The detention of more than a dozen dissidents over the past 10 days has soured the atmosphere ahead of Mr Christopher's visit. Yesterday there was even acrimony over where he should stay. The Chinese objected to the United States team's plans to stay in a city centre hotel, rather than the Diaoyutai state guest house which is off-limits to the public. Part of the reason for the detention of dissidents has been the Chinese government's determination to prevent them meeting Mr Christopher. Speaking before he left Tokyo, Mr Christopher said he had no plans at present to meet dissidents in Peking.

This morning Mr Christopher will hold a first round of talks with his counterpart, Qian Qichen. Last night the Foreign Ministry could not say whether he would also meet the Prime Minister, Li Peng, and this may depend on the tone of the first meeting.