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Chinese diplomat meets Bush after talks with Powell

Quichen and Bush
Bush meets Qian Qichen in the Oval Office on Thursday  

In this story:

China concerned with U.S. arms sales to Taiwan

Human rights in China discussed

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- China's top diplomat is meeting President Bush one day after a session with Secretary of State Colin Powell that covered a wide range of differences between the two countries, including U.S. arms sales to Taiwan.

Vice Premier Qian Qichen's working dinner with Powell also covered human rights, weapons proliferation and U.S. plans to develop a national missile defense system.

A senior State Department official described the meeting between Powell and Qian as "constructive and positive."

 MESSAGE BOARD
 

Powell told reporters Thursday he also raised the issue of Gao Zhan, a Chinese-born political scientist being detained in China. Gao, her husband and son were detained February 11. The husband and son were later released. The family now lives in the United States, but only the son is a U.S. citizen.

"We think it is particularly outrageous that the young boy, the son, was held away from his parents, away from family members, for an extended period of time, and we were not notified in the timely manner that is required and expected," Powell said. "So we are expressing our displeasure about all of this to the Chinese government and expecting additional answers."

China concerned with U.S. arms sales to Taiwan

But the majority of the two-and-a-half hour discussion was spent addressing Chinese concerns over a possible U.S. sale to Taiwan of advanced weapons systems, including four destroyers equipped with aegis radar, officials said.

Qichen and Powell
Powell greets Qian Qichen at the Department of State on Wednesday  

A senior State Department official said Qian told Powell such a sale would be inconsistent with a 1982 agreement with China to limit the number and quality of weapons to Taiwan.

But Powell denied any inconsistency, and reiterated the Bush administration's commitment to the "one China policy," which treats Taiwan as a province of China. The secretary insisted U.S. weapons sales would be driven by the administration's determination of Taiwan's security needs and how they fit into the need for regional stability, the official said.

Powell assured Qian "no decisions have been made" on which weapons systems would be sold to Taiwan. A decision is expected by President Bush next month.

But the official said Powell told Qian he "read with care" Qian's comments to the press that China would use force to take over Taiwan if the sale went through, and he stressed the need for peaceful cross-strait dialogue between Beijing and Taipei. The official said Qian assured Powell of China's commitment to a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question.

Human rights in China discussed

Powell also brought up U.S. concern over Hong Kong's autonomy, after hearing "indications of increased pressure by Beijing" against the press and the Falun Gong meditation group there. Although annexed with the Chinese mainland in 1997, Hong Kong maintains self-rule.

Tibet protest
Demonstrators supporting Tibet protest Qian Qichen's visit in Washington on Wednesday  

The discussions also touched upon the larger issue of human rights, with Powell stressing the need for "international human rights standards."

The United States plans to introduce a resolution condemning China's human rights record at a U.N. conference in Geneva this month. The senior official said the administration expects a "spirited debate" on the issue.

The issue of weapons proliferation also was addressed. Powell expressed U.S. concern over activities by Iran and Iraq and told Qian the increased proliferation of weapons by such countries was a factor in the U.S. decision to build a national missile defense, the official said. He added that Powell assured Qian that any missile defense deployed by the United States "was not aimed at China."

They also discussed North Korea, where Powell "expressed support for [South Korean President] Kim Dae Jung," and spoke of concern about the security threat posed by North Korea.

Powell also talked of concerns of Chinese cooperation with Iraq outside of U.N.-mandated sanctions. Chinese companies have recently been accused of working on telecommunications in Iraq, in violation of sanctions.



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RELATED SITES:
Republic of China Government Information Office: Taiwan
Chinese Government (in Chinese)
U.S. State Department
U.S. Department of Defense
U.S. Embassy in China
Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C.

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