President Jiang Zemin arrived in Chicago, Illinois Tuesday morning local time on the start of a visit to the United States.
The climax of his trip will be a meeting with George W. Bush at the US president's Texas ranch, the two leaders' third meeting in a year.
In a written statement delivered upon his arrival at the airport, Jiang said he would discuss bilateral ties and issues of common concern with his US counterpart.
"I believe the visit will promote mutual understanding and trust, expand exchange and co-operation between the two countries and bring about further development of Sino-US constructive and co-operative relations through the joint efforts of both sides," Jiang said.
From Chicago, Jiang will fly to Houston in Texas, where he is scheduled to meet former US President George Bush, the current president's father. He will later meet with George W. Bush at the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Jiang is the fourth foreign leader to have been invited to Bush's private ranch since Bush assumed the presidency. The other three were Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah.
Such meetings have been widely believed to symbolize intimacy between Bush and his guests and closeness and importance of their bilateral ties.
In an interview with the Hong Kong-based Phoenix TV channel broadcast last Friday, US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Bush is pleased with the way that US-China relations have developed over the previous 21 months of his administration. He said Bush sees China as a friend and is looking forward to receiving the Chinese president at Crawford on Friday, according to Xinhua News Agency.
Jiang and Bush are expected to discuss the Taiwan question, the linchpin of bilateral ties. He will ask the Bush administration to stick to the one-China principle and honour the three Sino-US joint communiques -- the cornerstone of bilateral relations -- and to refrain from selling advanced weapons to Taiwan.
Other likely topics include counter-terrorism, the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, economic and trade exchanges, military ties and Iraq, according to the Chinese foreign ministry.
After his US visit, Jiang will fly to Los Cabos, Mexico to attend the annual meeting of economic leaders from the 21-member Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation organization.
Sino-US relations have developed steadily since the two leaders pledged to build constructive relations of co-operation during their meeting in Shanghai in October last year.
In August this year, US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage announced during a visit to Beijing that the US Government had put the East Turkistan Islamic Movement on Washington's list of terrorist groups, a decision that Beijing welcomed. The group was behind a string of violent terrorist acts in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous region and elsewhere.
In late August, the Chinese Government released a set of rules on the control of the export of missiles and missile-related items and technologies. Last week, it promulgated another regulation governing export controls on dual-use chemical agents and related equipment and technologies. Analysts said the two sets of rules highlighted China's commitment to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Bilateral economic and trade relations have also progressed healthily. During the first eight months of this year, the trade volume between the two countries rose 14.6 per cent year on year to reach US$60.2 billion. China is the fourth-largest trading partner of the United States, and the US is China's second-largest.
At the end of August, there were 35,991 US-funded businesses on the Chinese mainland, representing contracted investment of US$75.3 billion. Meanwhile, there were 681 Chinese mainland-funded enterprises in the US at the end of June, with a pledged investment of more than US$1 billion.
Bilateral relations, however, have also been marred by some thorny issues, the most prominent of which is Taiwan. Beijing has repeatedly protested to Washington over US arms sales to the island and over senior Taiwan officials being granted permission to visit the US. Beijing regards such action as serious interference in China's internal affairs.
(China Daily October 23, 2002)