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Americans in China get tour fit for a Qing

Chinese Premier Zhao Ziyang spent two hours Wednesday visiting with a delegation of American high-school students from Sidwell Friends, a private school in Washington, D.C.

Diplomats here say the visit was unprecedented, even for top-level official guests.

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After an elaborate tea party and exchange of gifts, the premier personally conducted the students on an extensive 11/4-hour walking tour of the historic sites in the exclusive Zhongnanhai compound, where China's leaders live and work.

The walled-in compound area contains numerous gardens, palaces, and pavilions bordering on several large lakes, all of which were constructed during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

The students were shown Mao Tse-tung's former offices and other rare sites that have not been open to the public in many years, if at all.

The premier was in a particularly exuberant mood, his aides said.

In his formal welcoming remarks, he urged the students to get to know China well during their three-week visit.

Premier Zhao visited the Sidwell Friends School during his trip to Washington in January, where a class of some 20 students had been studying Chinese for several months. At that time, he invited the students to visit China as his personal guests.