Beijing and Washington are squabbling over where US President George W. Bush will stay in Beijing next week, with his hosts proposing a state guesthouse and the President's team favouring a city hotel where he would have more freedom, diplomats said yesterday. Mr Bush is due to arrive on Thursday morning from Seoul for a 30-hour visit that will include meetings with China's leaders, a joint news conference with President Jiang Zemin and a speech at Tsinghua University, both due to be broadcast live on Chinese television. However, Mr Bush will be spending longer in Japan in deference to the Americans' long-time ally. Beijing wants Mr Bush to stay in the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse, a tightly guarded compound of villas amid lakes and gardens in the west of Beijing where heads of state nearly always stay, the diplomats said. The US team would prefer the St Regis Hotel, a five-star establishment close to the US Embassy which is used by high-ranking official guests, business people and well-heeled tourists. Members of Mr Bush's advance party are already staying there. From the security point of view, Diaoyutai would be better, since it is cut off from the rest of Beijing by high walls and guarded by armed soldiers. Only people and vehicles with prior permission are allowed to enter. The St Regis is a commercial hotel, overlooking major streets, and guests and visitors would have to be closely monitored during a presidential visit. The US side prefers it because it can accommodate all of Mr Bush's party and would give them more control over who could come in and out. Diplomats assume all the villas in Diaoyutai are bugged. 'It seems that Beijing will win this argument and that Bush will stay in Diaoyutai,' one diplomat said. 'That is the protocol for a visiting head of state.' He said the two sides had reached agreement on the programme, with the bilateral meetings and news conference on Thursday and the speech at Tsinghua University on Friday, when Mr Bush is due to walk along the Great Wall and possibly Wangfujing, the city's main commercial street. The diplomat said Mr Bush was unlikely to meet political or religious dissidents, which he could do within the safety of the US Embassy, but might see liberal economists or scholars. Police are on high alert. They have increased surveillance of foreign journalists and put more officers on the street, fearful that dissidents - whether political or religious - will seek to take advantage of the Bush visit to show their anger with the Government.