AFP: Future Chinese leader Hu meets British PM [Excerpt]

By Andrew Gully
Monday, 29-Oct-2001
LONDON, Oct 29 (AFP) - Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao met British Prime Minister Tony Blair Monday on his first European visit, [...]
Blair and Hu, who is on a five-day state visit, shook hands outside No 10 before going inside for talks and a working lunch.
The presumed successor to Chinese President Jiang Zemin is on a two-week European trip that will boost his somewhat shadowy profile both domestically and abroad.
The vice president later left Downing Street without comment, departing through the side entrance via the Foreign Office to avoid protesters.
The vice president, who is widely expected to be China's next president, will also have meetings with Queen Elizabeth II and Bank of England governor Eddie George before heading north to Scotland to meet First Minister Henry Mcleish.
Hu, 59, ranks fifth in the [party name omitted] Party's seven-member Politburo Standing Committee and is its youngest member.
He was anointed successor to Jiang by the late paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, and will replace him as leader of the party next year.
Earlier Monday, Falun Gong practitioners called on the visiting vice president to release thousands of their European and Chinese followers they say are held in the Chinese prisons.
Before it was outlawed in China, independent estimates put the number of followers of the group, [...], in the tens of millions.
After the ban, the group's members repeatedly carried out protests in Tiananmen Square, [...]
In a letter addressed to Hu, the movement claimed that the Chinese government were guilty of massive abuses against the [group].
"Many practitioners died because of the horrible torture. Moreover, the police beat, rape, and sexually assault females practitioners with electrical batons," the [practitioners] claimed.


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