Chinese Leader Continues European Tour in Britain

Posted June 26th, 2011 at 8:00 pm (UTC-5)
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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao continued his European tour Sunday in the central English city of Birmingham, where he visited the Chinese-owned Longbridge MG car factory.

Mr. Wen unveiled the first new MG car model in 15 years, calling it a potent symbol of friendship between London and Beijing.

Outside the factory gates, a group of protesters demanded freedom for Chinese-ruled Tibet. Some of the protesters' placards read “Cameron and Wen: Human rights before trade.”

Later in the day, Mr. Wen attended a brief performance at the Shakespeare Center in Stratford-upon-Avon, the playwright's birthplace.

On Monday, the Chinese premier is scheduled to meet with his British counterpart, David Cameron. Their talks will likely focus on trade and business, and major investment deals are expected to be announced.

After the meeting, Mr. Wen will travel to Germany.

China is demonstrating a growing interest in Europe, but Beijing's human rights record remains an important issue for European leaders. The Chinese government has faced fierce criticism for cracking down on dissidents and investing in African countries with authoritarian governments.

German officials say the issue of human rights will be discussed when Mr. Wen attends a cabinet meeting later in the week.