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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 27, 2002

China's heir-apparent begins U.S. tour here

Hawai'i today welcomes Hu Jintao, the man expected to take over as leader of the world's most populous nation, as he arrives for a 24-hour visit. He continues on to San Francisco, New York City and Washington, where he is expected to meet with President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Vice President Hu is slated to replace President Jiang Zemin, first as party general secretary this year and as president next year.

The visit comes at a rocky point in U.S.-China relations, and Beijing actually felt obliged to explain why Hu's visit hadn't been called off in light of recent disagreements with Washington, especially President Bush's elevated support for Taiwan.

But the interests of both nations favor stable and amicable relations, not discord. We must hope that Bush and Hu enlarge on the personal relationship they began in China earlier this year.

Although little is known in the West about Hu, 59, he bristled this week at his characterization as a "mystery man." Perhaps it has been Hu's refusal to take strong public positions that led to his quick rise in the hierarchy as well as his vague reputation.

It is, of course, good news that Hu has chosen Hawai'i as a stop on his tour; he is the latest of many Asian leaders to enjoy the cultural compatibility of Hawai'i as well as a time-zone adjustment en route to crucial meetings. We hope to see more of him.