From: Steve Hurst/CNN State Dept. Correspondent
In: Washington, D.C.
Subject: Chinese Foreign Minister Says U.S. "Money Politics" Has Nothing To Do With China.
China's foreign minister said Monday that allegations of Chinese attempts to buy influence in the last presidential campaign had "nothing to do with China."
During a brief session with reporters before heading into talks with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Qian Qichen said, "I believe it's very unusual for people to see political contributions and money politics in the United States, however they have nothing to do with China."
Qian was asked by CNN if his government was investigating the allegations and if evidence had been found to support those claims in U.S. news reports. His answer was unresponsive.
Albright responded without prompting. "Let me also address that as I raised the issue with the vice premier when I was in China in February and expressed to him how seriously we view these allegations and I will do so again and also make clear to all of you that they are currently under judicial investigation," she said.
Qian is in the U.S. capital to prepare for a summit next fall between President Bill Clinton and China's President Jiang Zemin in Washington. Clinton is expected to pay a return visit to Beijing next year.
But after two hours of talks, State Department spokesman Nicholas Burns reported little progress beyond firming up an agreement in principle on continued U.S. Navy port calls to Hong Kong after the British colony reverts to Chinese rule July 1.
Burns called the talks, which will continue over dinner, "a good and constructive exchange of views on a wide variety of issues."
At the same time, he said Albright told Qian that the United States and the people of Hong Kong were looking for concrete assurances that China would live up to the 1984 agreement with London, promising to maintain the enclave's autonomy, personal liberties and capitalist system.
Before the meeting Albright said that she planned to "stress U.S. concern about human rights in China as well as the U.S. interest in the preservation [of] Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy and its basic freedoms."
He said Albright informed Qian that the United States still wants to see China become a member of the World Trade Organization but that Beijing still needed to do a great deal to open markets to U.S. goods, primarily agricultural products.
Burns said the session mostly centered on the implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, just ratified in the U.S. Senate, and over Washington's concerns about allegations that China was helping Iran develop chemical weapons, and exporting missile components to Iraq. The U.S. has branded Iraq a renegade and sponsor of terrorism.
Going into the meeting, the foreign minister was unusually upbeat about Sino-U.S. relations, saying Washington and Beijing had more in common than not.
"The two sides have made progress in many fields including political consultations, economic cooperation and trade, environmental protection, exchanges between the two militaries and so on," he said.
Qian added, "I believe that although there are some differences between the United States and China, they are far outnumbered by our common views."
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