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China arrests activists before Obama visit

Nov. 14, 2009 at 3:01 PM   |   Comments

BEIJING, Nov. 14 (UPI) -- China is preparing for U.S. President Barack Obama's visit by arresting dozens of political dissidents and reform advocates, human rights activists say.

Family members and activists told Saturday's Financial Times that four Chinese dissidents have been jailed ahead of Obama's visit, while at least 30 others who had been expected to apply for the right to protest have also likely been arrested.

The British newspaper said activists are worried Obama will gloss over China's dodgy human rights record in order to reach accords with President Hu Jintao on such issues as climate change, the economy and bilateral trade.

"We get the impression Obama doesn't want to talk about human rights on this trip, but it is precisely because of his visit here that these people are being rounded up and detained right now," Ai Weiwei, a Beijing artist and social commentator, told Financial Times.

Meanwhile, Chinese officials have handpicked six students from Shanghai's elite Jiaotong University to ask questions in a "town hall" meeting Obama plans to hold with young people Monday in Shanghai, activists told the newspaper.

© 2009 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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