Before U.S. visit, China's Jiang calls for understanding
October 19, 1997
Web posted at: 12:46 p.m. EDT (1646 GMT)
BEIJING (CNN) -- Chinese President Jiang Zemin said he hopes
to raise Chinese-American relations "to a new level" during
his upcoming visit to the United States.
In a rare interview, Jiang told the Washington Post that
China and the United States "share the responsibility for
preserving world peace and stability." He urged Americans and
Chinese to seek "common ground despite differences."
Jiang, 71, read from a prepared text at times during the
interview, interspersing his comments with Russian and
English, and quoted Chinese proverbs and a line from U.S.
President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, the Post
The interview was conducted Friday in Shanghai and published
Sunday. The Post said it was asked to submit questions in
advance and that Jiang was ready with written replies, which
he read word-for-word as the questions were asked.
"The China-U.S. relationship over the past few years can be
characterized like the weather; it has its ups and downs. I
think that, on the whole, relations are moving forward."
Chinese President Jiang Zemin, from a Time magazine
Nuclear pact reportedly on agenda
In the interview, Jiang indicated an interest in how
international affairs -- including the current U.S.-Japan
shipping dispute -- would affect his country's business
dealings and talked about future trade with China, saying
that the Communist Party would play a role in helping
international investors manage labor problems.
The Post quoted sources as saying China will pledge to end
sales of anti-ship cruise missiles to Iran, which the U.S.
sees as a threat to shipping in the Persian Gulf. The
newspaper also reported that the
two countries will sign an agreement on nuclear cooperation
that would allow American companies to sell nuclear power
plants and equipment to China.
But in the interview, Jiang strayed little from China's
ideological construct of the past, reasserting China's
sovereignty over Tibet and Taiwan and declaring that China
must limit the scope of direct democratic participation in
order to ensure stability and economic progress.
He used scientist Albert Einstein's theory of relativity to
argue his position. "I believe (the theory) can also be
applied to the political field," he said. "Both democracy
and human rights are relative concepts, and not absolute and
China's trade surplus at issue
Senior Chinese trade officials headed to the United States on
Sunday to buy American goods and try to blunt
criticism about China's swelling trade surplus ahead of
Jiang's U.S. itinerary:
Chinese President Jiang Zemin leaves next Sunday for the
United States. Among his planned stops:
Hawaii, where he will lay a wreath at the memorial for
American servicemen killed in the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl
Other U.S. historic sites, including
Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Harvard University in
Massachusetts and Williamsburg in Virginia.
Los Angeles, New York and Washington, all stops for the
delegation that precedes him this week.
Delegation leader Zeng Peiyan, vice minister of the State
Planning Commission, and officials arriving with him were
expected to sign deals worth $4 billion, the
state-run Xinhua News Agency said. Orders for Boeing
aircraft may cover half that amount.
Chinese officials and U.S. executives also will discuss auto
and aerospace ventures, development of offshore natural gas
and trade in financial services, Xinhua said.
By U.S. accounts, China ran a trade surplus with the United
States of $39.5 billion in 1996. The gap is expected to grow
to $44 billion this year.
Chinese figures show a smaller surplus, but officials there
acknowledge that the gap is widening.
The surge in Chinese exports has provoked a political
backlash in Washington, which is stalling Beijing's efforts
to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), the global free
China wants permanent MFN status
China also seeks permanent Most Favored Nation trading status
with the United States. U.S. Commerce Secretary William Daley
said earlier this week that China would not win permanent MFN
status until it addressed the trade imbalance.
But Xinhua quoted Zeng as saying that the current trade
mission proves that the Chinese government has taken active
steps toward promoting trade. Zeng said that the deals
signed would create more jobs in the United States.
Daley's counterpart in the Chinese government, Wu Yi, called
for Daley to grant permanent MFN status regardless of the
trade imbalance. "Permanent MFN status is not only
beneficial for Sino-U.S. commercial ties, but also for
long-term U.S. interests in China," Xinhua quoted Wu as
Reuters contributed to this report.