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China, US to Discuss Taiwan Issue During Cheney's Visit

China will urge the United States to follow its one-China policy and refrain from selling weapons to Taiwan during a working visit by US Vice President Dick Cheney next week.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said at a regular news briefing Tuesday that the Taiwan question will "no doubt" be a topic of Cheney's talks with the Chinese leaders during his three-day visit to Beijing beginning on next Tuesday.


"We are firmly opposed to the export of advanced weapons to Taiwan, which violates the United States' own repeated commitments and destroys peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits," said Kong. "The Chinese position will be expounded during the visit."


Kong's remarks echoed China's criticism last week when the Pentagon approved the sale of an early-warning military radar system to Taiwan.


The Taiwan question has always been the most important and sensitive issue in Sino-US relations.


The timing of Cheney's visit makes the issue even more outstanding as the results of the election in Taiwan on March 20 are being challenged.


The United States congratulated Chen on his re-election March 26, again arousing Beijing's criticism.


"The current situation across the Taiwan Straits is in a very sensitive and special status," said Kong. "We ask that the United States, under the current conditions, should earnestly adhere to its commitment and follow the one-China policy and the principles of the three Sino-US joint communiqu├ęs."


Cheney's visit has been seen by the Chinese side as a continuation in the growth of high-level exchanges between the two countries.


"It leads to enhanced understanding, promoting cooperation, expanding consensus and reducing differences for China and the United States to keep the momentum for exchanging high-level visits," said Kong.


Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao visited the United States last December.


In another development, the spokesman said China cannot accept that some Japanese linked its government's reduction of loans to China with the so-called "China threat" and even the "lack of transparency in China's military spending."


Kong said that China regards the Japanese loans as a symbol of Japanese friendly policy towards China, and has spoken highly of the loans' role, although China needs to repay the loans with interest.


Thanks to the yen-loan assistance, both China and Japan have benefited, with many Japanese enterprises entering the Chinese market, Kong said.


The Chinese side thinks that the loans provided by the Japanese government to China have played an active role in promoting the Sino-Japanese ties on the basis of equality and mutual benefit, Kong added.


After the Japanese government decided to cut the loans, the Japanese side provided evidence such as China's robust growth and the so-called "China threat," Kong said, stressing that China cannot accept these "rootless and groundless" explanations, and cannot accept Japan's connecting the loans with these kinds of view.


"These arguments do not hold water and absolutely do not conform to the facts," said Kong.


Japanese Foreign Ministry officials said on March 11 that Japan plans to scale back loans to China by 20 percent to around 96.7 billion yen (US$872.1 million) in the fiscal year to March 31. The amount is set to fall below the 100 billion yen mark for the first time in 14 years and it is the third straight year that Japan is cutting loans to China.


Turning to the Korean nuclear issue, the spokesman said China has submitted the draft of a conceptual document for setting up a working group for the six-party talks, and all sides have accepted the draft.


Kong said that China has always kept close contacts with the other five sides of the six-party talks on the nuclear issue of the Korean Peninsula, namely the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the United States, the Republic of Korea, Russia and Japan.


Kong said all five sides agreed with China on the draft, and the Chinese side hopes that the working group mechanism will be operated as soon as possible, so as to make preparations for next round of six-party talks.


Kong said the working group will mainly deal with the specific themes of the next round of talks.


According to the "Chairman's Statement" released at the end of the second round of six-party talks which were held February in Beijing, the involved parties agreed to set up a working group to deal with technical issues and to hold the third round six-party talks before June.


Also at yesterday's briefing, the spokesman announced that President Romano Prodi of the European Commission will pay an official visit to China from April 13 to 16 at the invitation of the Chinese government, and President Vaira Vike-Freiberga of the Republic of Latvia will pay a state visit to China from April 11 to 18 at the invitation of Chinese President Hu Jintao.


(Sources including China Daily and Xinhua News Agency, April 7, 2004)

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