China's top Taiwan-relations policymaker met with senior White House officials in Washington for more than a half hour on Tuesday for discussions on Beijing's proposed anti-secession legislation and other Taiwan issues at a time of serious strains in US-Taiwan relations.
Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), the director of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, held a meeting with Stephen Hadley, whom US President George W. President Bush recently appointed as his national security advisor to replace Condoleezza Rice, Bush's nominee for secretary of state.
Also attending the meeting in the White House complex was Michael Green, the senior director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council.
Neither the White House nor the Chinese embassy would give details of the discussion,although the State Department Monday said that a main topic of discussion during Chen's Washington visit would be the planned anti-secession law, which potentially mandates a Chinese attack on Taiwan if Beijing is unhappy with Taiwan's moves toward independence.
The standing committee of China's National People's Congress last week agreed to put the proposed law on the agenda for the NPC's plenary session in March.
The White House meeting kicked off the visit for Chen, who arrived earlier in the day, according to a Chinese embassy spokesman.
Chen is also scheduled to meet with Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage during the visit. The State Department on Monday said the meeting was scheduled for today, but some reports say that the meeting was pushed up to yesterday.
Congressional staffers were also unable to add credence to earlier reports in Chinese-language newspapers that Chen would meet members of Congress during the trip.
Congress convened on Tuesday after a year-end holiday break, but there will be too much happening during the early days of the new session to accommodate a meeting with the Chinese, congressional staffers say.
Chen's visit is the first high-level trip to Washington by Chinese leaders since Taiwan held its legislative elections last month, in which the Democratic Progressive Party suffered a setback by failing in its goal of gaining a majority of seats for the pan-green alliance in the legislature.
Chen's meeting with Armitage will mark a return engagement of a meeting the two officials held in China last January in which Armitage reportedly expressed serious reservations over President Chen Shui-bian's(
During that meeting, and a later one the two men held in Washington, Chen reportedly urged Armitage to take firm steps to derail the planned referendum.
Since then, Armitage has become one of the toughest Bush administration critics of Chen Shui-bian and Taiwan. He recently raised hackles in Taipei and Washington by stating that the US agrees that Taiwan is part of China, a remark that calls into question basic US policy on the issue since 1972.