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Beijing announced Jiang's U.S. travel plans

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An official from the China Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Wednesday (October 16) the US travel plan by China’s President Jiang Zemin. Jiang is scheduled to visit Chicago, Houston, and San Francisco, including a highlighted stopover at the Crawford Ranch, home of President Bush.

According to this official, Jiang will discuss issues related to anti-terrorism, weapon proliferation, and trade issues with his US counterpart.

China specialists in the US speculate that Jiang begged to be invited to the Crawford Ranch in an attempt to enrank himself among Bush’s elite guests such as Russia’s Putin and Saudi’s crowned prince. This will be particularly significant for Jiang as he is supposed to step down from the Party chief post in November at the 16th Communist Party Congress.

Sources say that, in a rare move, Jiang has asked the White House for an invitation to visit the US en route to the 10th APEC summit, which will be held on October 26 and 27 in Mexico.

International press including the US Government have expressed an interest in Hu Jingtao to succeed Jiang this November, but Jiang has yet to show any sign of willingness to give up any of the three key posts that he holds: President of the PRC, the Secretary General of the Communist Party, and the Chairman of the Central Military Committee.

Pro-democracy activists, supporters and members of the Falun Gong spiritual movement, human rights groups, and pro-Taiwan organizations are expected to stage a series of protests during Jiang’s visit in the US. Two weeks ago, the US State Department released a human rights report which lists China as one of the worst nations in terms of religious persecution.

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