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(BosNewsLife) – China continued its red carpet treatment for Uzbekistan ‘s authoritarian president Thursday, May 26, amid reports of a fresh crackdown at home against religious minorities, including Protestant Christians. In media statements President Islam Karimov was described as “an old friend of the Chinese people” by Chinese President Hu Jintao, despite mounting international pressure for the Uzbek leader to step down following days of anti-government protests in which up to 1,000 people died. It was unclear how many Christians were among those killed or injured. Karimov, who has been accused of ruling for 15 years with an iron fist, has made clear he will not allow revolutions like those in neighboring Kyrgyzstan and earlier in Georgia and Ukraine , and Protestants say his tactics include pressure on religious groups deemed dangerous to the regime.