Tiananmen Square crackdown

Clash of female titans proves a low-key event

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 25 May, 2007, 12:00am

It was a gathering of giants - the most powerful woman in China, Vice-Premier Wu Yi, meeting the most powerful woman in the United States, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Their meeting on Wednesday afternoon was of particular interest because Mrs Pelosi is a vociferous critic of Beijing and is now third in line to the US presidency.

Ms Wu has a reputation as a no-nonsense negotiator who commands the respect of foreign leaders. US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson has called her a 'force of nature'.

The clash of the female titans turned out to be a low-key event, however. The pair met behind closed doors at Mrs Pelosi's office with other members of Congress, including Tom Lantos, another critic of Beijing.

The only news to emerge from the meeting was a brief, politely worded press release from Mrs Pelosi's office.

'I was pleased to welcome Madam Vice-Premier Wu Yi and the Chinese delegation to the Capitol this afternoon,' Mrs Pelosi said.

On a visit to Beijing in 1991, Mrs Pelosi tried to unveil a banner protesting about the June 4 Tiananmen Square crackdown before being stopped by police.

The new civility might reflect a change in tone as Speaker.

Nevertheless, Mrs Pelosi did not stray far from her core issues. She said she had an 'open' and 'frank' dialogue on issues such as intellectual property rights violations, the undervaluation of the yuan, the genocide in Darfur and human rights in the mainland and Tibet .

'I believe that the Chinese government can do more in each of these areas,' she said.