Trade, Taiwan to be highlighted in talks
( 2003-12-08 08:07) (China Daily)
Premier Wen Jiabao headed for New York yesterday to start his four-day official visit to the United States.
Wen's trip is of great significance, since it will be an important event in bilateral relations this year, Yang Jiechi, the Chinese ambassador to the US, said on the eve of the visit scheduled for December 7-10, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing talked on the phone with US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Friday evening.
Powell said US President Gorge W. Bush and the US Government welcome and are awaiting Wen's upcoming visit.
Powell reiterated the United States would adhere to the one-China policy, saying the United States has repeatedly explained its stance on the Taiwan question to China, and will stick to it.
Chinese analysts said the questions of Taiwan and trade will be highlighted tomorrow at Wen's meeting with US President George W. Bush in Washington.
"On the question of Taiwan, the US Government will make some positive gestures on not supporting Taiwan independence,'' predicted Yan Xuetong, an international relations expert at Tsinghua University.
However, the US gesture is not expected to totally satisfy the needs of China, Yan said in an interview with China Daily.
"We can not expect that one visit could solve all problems related to the question of Taiwan,'' said Yan, adding that the US is still the largest supplier of military hardware to Taiwan.
The Taiwan authorities adopted a bill last month to allow referendums, adding instability to the cross-Straits situation.
The United States is Taiwan's biggest ally but has made commitments to sticking to the one-China policy.
Before Wen's visit, the US urged Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian to do nothing that would alter the island's status.
Compared with the Taiwan question, Yan said that the two countries have more possibilities of making progress in solving trade disputes.
"Actually, the trade problem is not a pure economic matter, it reflects political needs in US,'' said Yan, referring to next year's presidential election.
Zhang Yuncheng, an international trade expert with the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said that bilateral trade relations are now at a "sensitive'' stage.
He said that the deterioration of trade relations will add to US economic difficulties.
"As the two countries have growing economically interdependent, the further development of economic and trade partnership between China and US is the only way to a win-win situation,'' said Zhang.
From January to October this year, Sino-US trade reached US$102.48 billion, 30.7 per cent more than that of the same period last year, Yang said, citing official Chinese statistics.
During the same period, Chinese imports from the US reached US$27.56 billion, an increase of 25.7 per cent, the ambassador said.
On the investment front, the number of US-funded projects newly established in China in January to October reached 3,308, 22.25 per cent more than that of the same period last year. Chinese enterprises' investment in the US has also been growing steadily, Yang said.
According to statistics from the US Commerce Department, US exports to China surged 18.5 per cent in the first nine months of this year, far exceeding the growth of its exports to other trading partners.
Besides the two above issues, the leaders are also expected to talk other important issues in geopolitics and issues of common concern, said Yan Xuetong, citing the Korean nuclear issue as an example.
The four-day tour, which is China's most senior visit to US since the nation's new generation of leaders took office in November last year, will give Wen's access to communicate with officials and peoples in all walks of life in the United States.
The delegation is composed of senior government officials in charge of foreign affairs and economic and trade issues.
Wen's entourage includes Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Minister of National Development and Reform Commission Ma Kai, Director of the Research Office of the State Council Wei Liqun, Vice-Foreign Minister Zhou Wenzhong and Vice-Minister of Commerce Ma Xiuhong.
Besides the United States, Wen will also travel to Canada, Mexico and Ethiopia, returning to China on December 16.
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