The head of China's Taiwan Affairs Office, Chen Yunlin (陳雲林), met for an hour with US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage at the State Department Wednesday, for discussions centered on Beijing's planned anti-secession law, but Chen declined to provide the US side with the text of the proposed law, a State Department official said afterward.
Without the text, the Bush administration has refrained from commenting officially on the law, which is believed to mandate a military attack on Taiwan if the Beijing leadership decides Taiwan's moves toward independence have violated certain conditions laid down by the law.
After the meeting, the Chinese side made no comment, and the State Department issued a circumspect statement on the session.
Chen and Armitage "had a candid, constructive and informative discussion on a variety of cross-strait issues, including China's proposed anti-secession law," a State Department official said.
"We conveyed the long-standing position of the United States that the two sides should engage in dialogue to peacefully resolve their differences," he said.
"Neither side should do anything that unilaterally changes the status quo, or complicates management of this sensitive issue," he said.
Regarding the law itself, the department spokesman said, "We don't have the text of the law. We don't know when we will get it."
"We don't have the draft, so I cannot comment on specifics of the draft that we haven't seen."
The department official would not say whether Armitage asked Chen for a copy of the draft law during their meeting.
The Chinese side was tight-lipped about the talks.
The purpose of Chen's visit, according to Chinese Embassy spokesman Chu Mao-ming was for a "broad exchange of views on questions concerning Taiwan."
When he was pressed for more information, he said only that the two sides "talked about the anti- secession law," but he provided no details.
Nor would he say who else Chen might meet in Washington, or when Chen might leave for home.
After his meeting with Armitage, Chen declined to speak with journalists waiting outside of the State Department's headquarters.