China expressed strong reservations about US arms sales to Taiwan and its plan for the theatre missile defence shield that could be extended to cover the island.
During the meeting with US Secretary of State Colin Powell, Vice-Premier Qian Qichen indicated that the US arms sales violate communiques that the US and China signed in the 1970s and 1980s to reach a reasonable level of clarity on the Taiwan question and enable Washington and Beijing to normalize relations.
China hopes the US will continue to abide by the three communiques which are the basis of bilateral relations, particularly the ``8.17'' communique, Qian was quoted as saying by a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman.
In the third and last of the communiques, on August 17, 1982, the US said its arms sales to Taiwan would not exceed those of recent years and that it would ``reduce gradually its sales of arms to Taiwan, leading over a period of time to a final resolution.''
Being a tricky issue of Qian's visit, the US arms sales to Taiwan has been widely seen the biggest danger to the bilateral relations. It is reported that Taiwan expected Washington to agree to new arms sales, including destroyers equipped with powerful Lockheed Martin Aegis combat system.
Following President George W. Bush's clear reaffirmation of adherence to the one-China policy, Powell repeated Wednesday that the new US administration will continue to abide by the three communiques, noting its China policy does not change, according to the spokeswoman.
Qian, saying that the Taiwan question remains the most important and sensitive issue at the core of Sino-US relations, urged the US to handle the arms sale issue cautiously.
``China-US ties are no ordinary bilateral relations for they not only closely relate to the fundamental interests of the two countries as well as the two peoples, but also benefit peace and development in the Asia-Pacific region and even the world as a whole,'' said Qian Qichen when meeting with the media.
Saying Qian's visit symbolizes the great importance that the US attaches to strong relations with Asia, including with China, Powell said the US were impressed with the progress that China's economic reform achieved.
Powell said that he believed both the US and China hope to see stability and peace in Asia and China's accession to the World Trade Organization which benefit both nations.
Qian arrived Washington on Wednesday morning after meeting with entrepreneurs and CEOs of major media in New York. He is schedule to meet with Bush on Thursday.
(China Daily 03/23/2001)