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President Bush Discusses Exports with China's Hu

President George Bush shakes hands with Chinese President Hu Jintao during their meeting in Sydney, Australia, on Thursday. The leaders are attending  the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.
Jim Watson
President George Bush shakes hands with Chinese President Hu Jintao during their meeting in Sydney, Australia, on Thursday. The leaders are attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

President Bush discussed the safety of Beijing's exports with Chinese President Hu Jintao after recalls of tainted toothpaste, pet food and toys shipped to the United States.

The two leaders met for about 90 minutes at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Sydney, Australia, and discussed the nuclear threats posed by North Korea and Iran.

Hu was the first to bring up the sensitive subject about recent recalls that have stained the "Made in China" label. Bush expressed U.S. concerns for the safety of imported products and stressed to Hu that safety issues did not amount to trade protectionism.

During a morning news conference with Australian Prime Minister John Howard, Hu defended his country's regulation and inspection system, while stressing that anyone involved in wrongdoing would be held accountable.

Hu also said his country is ready to work with the international community to ensure that the inspections of goods are rigorous and sufficient, but stressed that the problem was an international one and not just a problem with Chinese goods.

"The Chinese side is willing and ready to work together with the international community to step up cooperation in quality inspections and examinations and further deepen mutually beneficial economic cooperation and trade," Hu said.

A few hours later, the Chinese leader shook hands with President Bush. The two leaders sat side-by-side in dark leather chairs at a Sydney hotel. This session was not another news conference. Each simply made a brief statement. They took no questions and offered little comment aside from a list of things they discussed. President Bush said he appreciated Hu's comments about product safety. He also said he raised an issue that is a primary point of contention — China's human rights record.

"I had a chance to share, once again, with the president my belief in religious freedom and religious liberty," Mr. Bush said. "It was a cordial and constructive conversation."

Mr. Bush said he and Hu also discussed their ongoing cooperation in the effort to halt North Korea's nuclear weapons program, and they talked about Iran. The Bush administration has pushed for China to apply greater pressure on the Tehran government to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

President Bush has also pressed China, with its booming economy and lax pollution standards, to subscribe to tougher clean-air regulations in partnership with other Pacific Rim nations. That topic also came up Thursday, but Hu's public statements this week indicate there has been little progress.

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