Hu Jintao Offers Panda Bears, Spurs Protest in Visit to Tokyo

TOKYO -- Chinese President Hu Jintao lauded closer cooperation with Japan -- and offered a pair of pandas as a friendly gesture -- after arriving on Tuesday for a state visit intended to nurture trust between the Asian powers.

The state visit, the second ever by a top Chinese leader, comes as Beijing seeks to calm tensions over Tibetan unrest, which has threatened to tarnish Beijing's Olympic Games in August.

Hu was greeted at the airport by senior Japanese officials and flag-waving well-wishers, mostly Chinese, but in the center of the capital, more than 1,000 protesters marched peacefully, chanting, "Human rights for Tibet."

Trucks carrying right-wing activists roamed the city blaring anti-China slogans and Japan's national anthem. Some 7,000 police were deployed amid concern over protests by the activists, who see China as a threat, but there were no reports of scuffles.

Hu, who has stressed forward-looking goals for his five days of ceremony, said stable and friendly ties were good for both countries, whose economies are increasingly intertwined.

"Relations between the two countries now have new opportunities for further development," he said in a written statement upon arrival in Tokyo. "I hope through this visit to increase mutual trust and strengthen friendship."

In a gesture that might help woo a skeptical Japanese public, Hu offered to lend Japan two pandas, Japanese media said, following the recent death of a popular panda at a Tokyo zoo.