Protesters have greeted Chinese president Hu Jintao and his wife as they arrived for a three-day UK visit. The pair were ceremonially greeted by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh on Horse Guards Parade, central London.
Hundreds of human rights protesters and Chinese government supporters lined the area as they entered Buckingham Palace in the royal carriage.
The couple will stay at the palace and Mr Hu will visit 10 Downing Street for talks with Tony Blair. Opponents of Chinese rule in Tibet shouted slogans and carried banners, while a number of pro-Chinese government supporters also lined The Mall.
Director of the Free Tibet Campaign Alison Reynolds said she hoped the demonstration would send a strong message to the visiting president. "The point is, he gets to see the Tibetan flag, which is banned in China and Tibet. "The message we want Tony Blair to deliver tomorrow is that Hu Jintao should meet the Dalai Lama.
"Tony Blair certainly has the influence, but whether he chooses to exercise it ... we sincerely hope our presence in the next couple of days will send a strong message." She also said she wanted to see much greater progress on human rights in Tibet, especially because of the Beijing Olympics in 2008.
"Those games are going to be tarnished if there isn't substantial progress," she told BBC Five Live. The prime minister earlier said protests over China's human rights records would be free to go ahead.
Speaking during his monthly press conference on Monday, Mr Blair said: "People are perfectly entitled to wear Free Tibet T-shirts or anything else.
"We live in a free, democratic country.... of course people are perfectly free to say whatever they want to say."
Police lawyers later admitted officers acted unlawfully by confiscating protesters' flags and banners. Mr Blair told journalists discussions with Mr Hu would focus on the growing economic links between the two countries as well as international security issues and climate change.
During their stay, the presidential couple will attend a banquet in the presence of the Queen at Buckingham Palace and visit an exhibition of Chinese art at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, reports BBC news. I.L.
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