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Congress grills Hu on policy

Chinese President Hu Jintao got an earful from the bipartisan leadership of Congress on Thursday about human rights, security concerns and economic relations, then courted U.S. business leaders and urged closer U.S.-China cooperation in all spheres.

Hu wrapped up the Washington portion of his U.S. visit by giving some ground on important issues to U.S. business interests, but behind-the-scenes negotiations failed to yield significant breakthroughs.

Hu left the nation's capital with little doubt about where Congress stands on a range of Chinese policies.

House Speaker John A. Boehner, R-Ohio, said a bipartisan group of congressional leaders pressed Hu for stronger protection of intellectual property and to curtail "the aggressive behavior of North Korea."

"And finally," Boehner said in a statement after their private meeting, "we raised our strong, ongoing concerns with reports of human rights violations in China, including the denial of religious freedom, and the use of coercive abortion as a consequence of the 'one child' policy.

"When it comes to guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of all her citizens, including and especially the unborn, Chinese leaders have a responsibility to do better, and the United States has a responsibility to hold them to account," Boehner said.

The biggest confrontation appeared to come from Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

In a statement, she said she handed Hu a letter as the meeting began outlining her "grave concerns regarding the Chinese regime's deplorable human rights record" as well as its economic and security policies. As the meeting ended, she said she challenged him on multiple human rights offenses and was "astonished" when Hu denied that China has a forced-abortion policy.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said she told Hu that U.S. lawmakers of both parties are concerned about China's detention of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo and his wife.

Later, Hu spoke before a U.S-China business group and called for closer U.S.-China cooperation on economic and security interests, and said that Beijing poses no military threat to any country, calling China's military spending "defensive" in nature.

There were private talks on greater access for U.S. beef into the Chinese market, but no deal was struck during Hu's visit.

"That's still being worked on," U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke told McClatchy Newspapers.

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