UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan arrived on Sunday in China, a veto-wielding permanent member of the UN Security Council, as talk of compromise on action against Iraq gathered steam.
Diplomats said Annan would deliver a strong message on China's fast-growing AIDS problem and might urge Beijing to tackle human rights abuses while he conferred with Chinese leaders over Iraq during the three-day annual visit.
The United States will confront demands this week at the United Nations for compromises likely to delay any outbreak of war, US and UN officials have said.
Beijing has pushed for a "political resolution" to the crisis under the direction of the Security Council, where it shares veto power with France, Russia, the United States and Britain. A resolution needs nine votes in favor and no veto from any of its five permanent members to pass the Security Council.
China is expected to go along with Russia in voting for a France's proposal for two-step approach, in which a second resolution would be needed to authorize force, analysts say.
Hours before the US Congress gave Washington a broad mandate for military action on Friday, Annan said most UN members also preferred the French proposal for two resolutions: the first to lay down tougher inspection conditions, the second to approve the use of force if those conditions were not met.
Annan, who last visited China in January 2001, was set to meet President Jiang Zemin and Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan on Monday.
He was to meet Vice Premier Qian Qichen and Vice President Hu Jintao on Tuesday.
Annan's plane touched down on Sunday evening in the eastern city of Hangzhou, where he is expected to give a speech at a local university highlighting nation's growing AIDS problem.
As many as 1.5 million Chinese were infected with HIV ,the virus that causes AIDS ,as of the end of 2001 and about 30,000 have so far died from the disease, according to the latest UN estimates.
The number could soar to 10 million by the end of the decade if there is no effective action, UN officials have warned.
Last year saw breakthroughs for AIDS awareness and gay people in China when the government struck homosexuality from a list of psychiatric disorders and broke a long silence on AIDS.
A survey by Nation's State Family Planning Commission and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in July said one in six Chinese people had never heard of AIDS. And most who knew about it did not know the cause of the disease.
(China Daily October 14, 2002 )