Chinese President Ends North American Tour

China's president, Hu Jintao, ended his first visit to North America with a speech in Vancouver Saturday, calling for expanded trade ties with Canada.

President Hu addressed about 1,000 political and business leaders, at the final event of his trip here in Vancouver,

Speaking through an interpreter, the Chinese leader said his country would elevate economic and trade relations with Canada. "Both sides agree to upgrade China-Canada relations to a level of strategic partnership. This move meets the needs of the times and wishes of our two peoples and it completely serves the common interests of the citizens of our two countries," he said.

Mr. Hu emphasized such areas as energy, natural resources and technology and said he hopes that trade between Canada and China will increase, almost doubling to $30 billion a year by 2010.

The Chinese leader was wrapping up a visit to North America that also took him to Mexico and to the United Nations in New York. Here in Canada he has been followed by demonstrators calling for Tibetan independence and protesting human rights. Mr. Hu's supporters, or greeters as they called themselves, vastly outnumbered the protestors here in Vancouver, when he arrived. There was some shouting and a banner calling for Tibetan independence was ripped down.

Mr. Hu's North American trip started with a visit to the Canadian capital Ottawa, on September 8. After meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, the two leaders signed multiple agreements, on matters including collaboration on nuclear energy and increasing direct flights.

After quick stops in Toronto and picturesque Niagara Falls, Mr. Hu flew south to Mexico. Trade issues led the discussion with Mexican President Vicente Fox, as the two countries signed agreements affecting the mining and fruit industries.

Mr. Hu also attended the 60th Anniversary celebrations of the United Nations in New York. While addressing the General Assembly, the Chinese Leader urged the organization to take the lead fighting terrorism and called for a new global security mechanism.

While at the U.N. Mr. Hu met with President Bush. The two discussed the importance of continuing six party talks with North Korea on its nuclear program. In addition, Mr. Hu promised to take steps to reduce the trade imbalance with the United States, which in July hit $17.7 billion, in China's favor.