US urged again to stop fingerprinting Chinese
China urged the United States again Wednesday to lift a "discriminative" fingerprinting requirement on Chinese citizens who are applying for visa to the United States.
The US embassy and consulates in China kicked off the procedure since March 22. US officials said that this practice was targeted at most visa applicants from the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, and excluded Canada and 27 countries in Europe.
"China regards that as an unfair practice," said He Yafei, director of the Department of North American and Oceanian Affairs under the Foreign Ministry.
"We understand that practice was aimed at prevent terrorism, but no one terrorist was from nor entered the United States via China," the official said.
China has asked the US side to cancel the procedure but the US side did not make change. "That's why China adopted counter measures to the procedure," He said.
"We hope that the US side could lift the discriminative requirement for the general situation of Sino-US friendship," the director said at a news briefing on US Vice President Dick Cheney's China visit next week.
The United States said on April 2 that it will begin to fingerprint and photograph all foreign visitors, including those from close US allies, as from the end of September.
He described the visit as a "significant" high-level contact, during which leaders of the two countries will exchange views on bilateral ties and issues of common concern.
Cheney will pay a working visit to China from April 13 to 15 at the invitation of Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong. But the Foreign Ministry official gave no specific schedule of the visit during a news briefing.
He said the past couple of years saw big progress in Sino-US relations, and the contacts and visits between their leaders were frequent.
Cooperation between the two nations has been fruitful in a wide range of areas such as anti-terrorism, non-traditional security and epidemic prevention, He said, noting that the cooperation is conducive to the stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large.
He said the Sino-US cooperation has benefited both the Chinese and American peoples, hoping the US side will continue to follow the principle of substantive cooperation and develop bilateral ties.
He admitted there are differences between China and the United States, but pointed out that both as influential countries regionally and globally and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, cooperation should stand out prominently in the two nations' ties.
And their differences mainly lie in the Taiwan issue, He said. The Taiwan question is very important to the Chinese people, for it concerns China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The Taiwan issue forms the most important and most delicate topic of the Sino-US relations, and so long as principles of the three Sino-US joint communiques are closely followed, the two countries' relations will go on a sound track, He said.
"The Taiwan issue is the most vital and sensitive question amid Sino-US relationship because it concerns China's sovereignty, territory integrity and the feeling of the 1.3 billion Chinese people," He said.
"The one-China policy and the three Sino-US communiques are the foundation of Sino-US ties and I believe the US side clearly understands that," the director said.
The recent declaration of the United States showed that the US side kept its promise, but some words and activities such as the decision to sell weapons to Taiwan violated the US commitment, He said.
US President George W. Bush also said last December that the US opposed any unilateral statements or acts aimed to change the existing situation across the Taiwan Straits, the director said.
But the US Defense Department decided to sell radar to Taiwan, which was against the US promise and sent "wrong signals" to "Taiwan independence" forces, He said, adding that China lodged solemn representation to the US side.
"To maintain peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits is in the common interests of China and the United States," the director noted.
The election in Taiwan was a local election in China, He said. No matter what the result is, the fact that Taiwan is part of China will never change, He said.
Human rights issue
He said that differences in human rights should be resolved through dialogue and consultation, and China opposes confrontation on the issue. Human rights are the concern of both sides, and they should make good use their dialogue mechanism to resolve the differences rather than reprimand each other on the issue.
China has recently adopted an amendment to its Constitution, providing that 'The State shall respect and protect human rights'.It demonstrates that the Chinese government attaches importance tothe issue.
The United States also has its own problems in human rights, he said.
As to whether the leaders of the two countries will discuss human rights issue during Cheney's visit, He said China hopes they will exchange views in a calm atmosphere.