Clinton visits church, meets women before leaving China

February 22nd, 2009 - 2:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Beijing, Feb 22 (DPA) US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton attended a church service and met a group of outstanding Chinese women in Beijing Sunday, before she left China and ended a week-long diplomatic tour of four Asian nations.
Clinton visited the modern Haidian Church in a western suburb of Beijing, following meetings with top Chinese leaders Saturday.

Later Sunday morning, she met a group of 22 female scholars, lawyers, entrepreneurs, and directors of women’s groups, environmental and other grassroots organisations.

Among the Chinese women who met Clinton were retired doctor and award-winning AIDS activist Gao Yaojie, online shopping website founder Peggy Yu, and television presenter Zhang Yue, according to a list provided by US officials.

Clinton and Chinese leaders Saturday agreed to hold high-level strategic dialogues on economic, environmental, political and security issues, and vowed to cooperate in helping the world to recover from financial turmoil.

“We have every reason to believe that the United States and China will recover and that together we will help to lead the world recovery,” Clinton said Saturday.

In a later meeting with President Hu Jintao Saturday, Clinton said she saw a “new era” in cooperation with China.

Despite the feel-good diplomacy, Amnesty International and other rights groups said they were “shocked” by Clinton apparently giving a low priority to concerns over China’s human rights record.

A leading Chinese dissident, who was placed under house arrest Saturday, also urged Clinton not to allow greater cooperation on economic and other issues to reduce the pressure on China to improve human rights.

“The progress of human rights in China needs efforts from both inside and outside (the country),” Zeng Jinyan told DPA in a message.

The China Human Rights Defenders said police placed several other well-known dissidents under house arrest or tighter surveillance before Clinton’s visit.

Clinton also visited South Korea, Japan and Indonesia on her Asian tour.

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