China and the United States broke a four-year deadlock in consultations over commercial satellite launches in Beijing yesterday.
The five-day talks began behind closed doors in the Chinese capital on Monday and will continue until Friday with visits to space facilities in Xi'an in northwest China and Shanghai, according to sources in the US Embassy and China's space agency.
Although details of the talks are confidential, a brief news release issued yesterday said that the two sides exchanged information on commercial satellite launches and reviewed the implementation of a major bilateral agreement.
The consultation, the first since the two sides met in Washington in 1997, took place under the memorandum of agreement regarding international trade in commercial launch services, which China and US signed in 1989, according to John Berry, a spokesman of the US Embassy in Beijing.
The agreement has enshrined provisions for regular consultations on commercial satellite launch issues, said the embassy official.
"These are the first talks in several years, following a number of administrative delays in scheduling,'' said the spokesman. "The US side has been looking forward to these talks, which it sees as a symbol of the long-term co-operation between China and America in this area.''
Participants in the talks included Sun Jiadong, special adviser for the China National Space Administration (CNSA) and Steve Falken, director of Space Trade Policy of the US Trade Representative Office.
The talks will cover such areas as the world market outlook, new Chinese projects, and the functioning of the agreement itself.
Luo Ge, a division director of the CNSA, said the talks held in the past two days were "sincere and candid, with both sides improving mutual understanding.'' He said thanks to the concerted efforts of China and the United States, bilateral collaborations in commercial launch services had been very fruitful in the past.
China has so far sent more than 20 US-manufactured satellites into orbit, he said.
(China Daily 03/21/2001)