Rights protesters fail to dampen mood as North America trip draws to close President Hu Jintao hailed growing business and investment opportunities as his landmark North American trip drew to a close on Saturday. As Mr Hu toasted the partnership between the two countries with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, protesters outside chanted 'free Tibet' slogans and others denounced Beijing's threat of force if Taiwan declared independence. A lunch hosted by Mr Martin in Vancouver included federal and provincial government officials, as well as businessmen and community leaders. The premiers of the four western provinces British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba were on hand. With Canada showing such a strong interest in Asia's most populous nation, Mr Martin said: 'I believe this is a tribute to you and the importance of your country and the importance of the friendship between China and Canada.' Mr Martin talked about the links between the two countries, including the successes of Chinese immigrants such as Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson and Alberta's lieutenant-governor, Normie Kwong. He also pointed out that both countries were Olympics hosts, joking that in three years at the Beijing Summer Games Mr Hu would meet many Canadians because they would be winning the gold medals. But the main focus was business and investment. 'During your visit, we've announced agreements to enhance co-operation in the areas of transport, food safety, nuclear energy, and science and technology,' Mr Martin said. He pointed to British Columbia's Gateway project, which will increase port and transport capacity, as well as plans for new energy pipelines in western Canada. Mr Hu said the two countries should upgrade their relationship to 'a strategic partnership', projecting that annual trade, now at US$24 billion, would be pushed up to US$30 billion by 2010. He finished his speech by saying: 'I look forward to seeing you in China for sightseeing, investment or business.' There was no mention of human rights, but outside the venue people shouted out their various concerns. People clutching megaphones led chants of 'Free Tibet, China - shame, shame, shame', and 'China - hands off Taiwan', while others waved Chinese flags. There was a strong police presence, but officers seemed more concerned about safety than the protests. However, Students for a Free Tibet protester Tsring Lama recounted an earlier attack. 'There were four of us here shouting 'Free Tibet', and when the foreign minister arrived, about 250 people who were pro-China attacked us,' the student recalled. 'They ripped our placards and they started hitting us. They were elderly men and middle-aged women. 'I didn't get seriously hurt, but one of my friends got hit on his chest with a pole. There were no police around, probably because they were watching Hu come in.' One of the more peaceful groups, the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement, held signs reminding others of the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989. Some just said 'June 4', while others showed the picture of the lone man standing in front of a line of tanks. And in an area tucked away from the throng of protesters were a blazing-red camp of Hu supporters. They held a banner that read, 'Warmest welcome to President Hu Jintao to Vancouver', and waved flags. They identified themselves by wearing red pieces of paper that said 'greeter'. When asked about the throng of noisy protesters, one of the pro-China crowd said: 'That's normal. But their information [Free Tibet protesters] is not justified. 'They have never been to Tibet and I asked a Canadian woman if she knew the history of Tibet. She said she didn't. It has improved a lot since 1959. Minorities have benefits that [we] Han Chinese don't.'