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US Working Group Founders Visit China
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Founders of the United States House of Representatives' China Working Group are in China for their first visit since the establishment of the group last June.

Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, and Rick Larsen, a Democrat from Washington State, said they will discuss with their Chinese hosts economic and other issues including possible co-operation on space programs.

Kirk said the US and China could investigate possible co-operation opportunities to enable their astronauts to help each other in emergencies.

Kirk and Larsen and their entourage began their visit on Monday in Beijing, they will also visit Shanghai and the satellite-launching center in Jiuquan in Northwest China's Gansu Province during their 10-day stay.

They have met Wu Bangguo, chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, Defence Minister Cao Gangchuan, and senior economic officials.

Kirk said the tour would also be an educational opportunity for them.

"I feel we (the US congressmen) need to educate ourselves more about China," he said on Wednesday during a luncheon organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in China.

He said part of the feeling came from the reflection on the highly controversial case of Chinese offshore oil company CNOOC Ltd's bid to take over American company Unocal.

CNOOC dropped the bid due to heavy opposition from many US legislators. However, a number of facts that many "emotional" opponents used in support of their stand were actually not true, Kirk said.

He said the 35-member China Working Group aims to build stronger political and economic relations with China.

He said that Chicago, the largest city in his home state of Illinois, plans to hold a Year of China in 2010.

Chicago also plans to make a bid to host the 2016 Olympics, Kirk said, adding that they want to learn from Beijing's experiences of bidding and hosting the Olympics.

(China Daily January 13, 2006)


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