Beijing, 27 February 1999 (RFE/RL) -- U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is due to leave Washington today to begin an Asian trip beginning tomorrow in Beijing.
Albright's meetings with Chinese officials are expected to focus on human rights.
Yesterday, U.S. President Bill Clinton criticized China's leadership for cracking down on dissent and stifling its economy. Meanwhile, the U.S. State Department, in its annual human rights report, cited what it called "widespread and well-documented" human rights abuses in China. The report said the government's human rights record deteriorated sharply beginning in the final months of last year with a crackdown against organized political dissent.
Chinese President Jiang Zemin has urged the world to, in his words, "better understand" his country.
The official China Daily today quoted Jiang making the remark at a national work conference on promoting understanding of the country.
He said, "China needs to understand the outside world better, as the outside world must better understand China."
The China Daily said Jiang called for "a massive promotional effort to improve the country's international stature and benefit its modernization drive."
Jiang said promotional efforts should attempt to "clarify the country's internal and diplomatic policies as well as its principles on major international issues."
In its annual report on human rights, the U.S. State Department yesterday said the situation in China had seriously worsened at the end of last year, "with a campaign of repression against organized political opposition."