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Cheney visit to foster relations
By Jiang Zhuqing (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-07 23:56

Though coming after recent spats over human rights issues and visa application procedures, US Vice President Dick Cheney's visit to China is expected to foster bilateral relationship, a senior foreign ministry official said Wednesday.

During Cheney's visit, the leaders of the two nations will exchange views on bilateral ties and common issues, He Yafei, director of the Department of the North American and Oceanian Affairs of the Foreign Ministry, said at a news conference.

The visit comes at the invitation of China's Vice-President Zeng Qinghong. Cheney will be in China from April 13 to 15, said He, noting the two sides are busy preparing a detailed schedule for the talks.

During past couple of years, co-operation has centred on anti-terrorism, non-traditional security and prevention of epidemics, He said. Co-operation has benefited both peoples and has added stability to the Asia-Pacific region.

Major differences lie in the Taiwan question, which will be the most important and delicate topic to be discussed.

The director said China had solemnly expressed disappointment to the White House for its plans to sell advanced pre-alarm radar systems to Taiwan, especially given the current sensitive and complex situation across the Taiwan Straits.

The United States should strictly follow the one-China policy and principles of the three Sino-US joint communiques to guarantee bilateral relations stay on a sound track, He said.

As to whether the leaders of the two nations will discuss human rights issues, He said China hopes views exchanged will be in a calm atmosphere.

Reports have indicated the United States plans to seek a United Nations resolution to criticize China's human rights record during the ongoing 60th Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights.

He said China opposes confrontation on the human rights issue and advocates solving the matter through dialogue and consultation.

China recently adopted an amendment to its Constitution, providing that "The State shall respect and protect human rights,'' indicating the importance the Chinese Government attaches to the issue, He said.

Answering an inquiry about the US decision on March 22 to collect fingerprints of Chinese people who apply for a US visa, the director said he hopes the US side will lift the discriminative requirement.

"China regards that as an unfair practice," said the director. "We understand that practice was aimed at preventing terrorism, but not one terrorist was from nor entered the United States via China."

Answering a question over whether China will discuss the Basic Law issue, He said China hopes that related countries --including the United States -- keep their promises to support the "one country, two systems" principle.

"We hope that related countries will not do anything that could damage the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong," He said.

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