US Secretary of State Colin Powell yesterday told Chinese-language media that he will not discuss US arms sales to Taiwan with Chinese leaders during his upcoming visit to Beijing. He also stressed that the US arms sales to Taiwan aim at helping the island to defend itself, and that the sales will not threaten China.
Powell arrived in Tokyo yesterday and will flight to Beijing later today. He is also scheduled to attend Tuesday's inauguration of South Korean President-elect Roh Moo-hyun in Seoul.
During his visit to Beijing, he will meet Chinese President Jiang Zemin (江澤民), Vice President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan (唐家璇) and other high-ranking officials to exchange opinions on the North Korea issue.
According to Powell, Jiang himself firmly supported US President George W. Bush's idea of keeping the two Koreas a "non-nuclear peninsula" during their previous meeting in Texas. Therefore, the US hopes that China can use its influence to achieve this goal in order to resolve the current crisis.
Reporters asked whether China would try to exchange cooperation on the North Korea problem for reduced US arms sales to Taiwan. Powell emphasized that he did not expect these questions would be discussed on this trip.
Powell said the US completely understands Chinese concern about the arms-sales issue and that he had used every opportunity to remind Chinese officials that though the US has made promises regarding the one-China policy and the three communiques, it also has responsibilities under the Taiwan Relations Act. When selling arms to Taiwan, the US considers all factors, he said.
Responding to reporter's questions about when the US will begin the war on Iraq, Powell refused to reply directly. Instead he said that the peace sought by the US is the way to avoid war, but if Saddam Hussein refuses to disarm, military action may be unavoidable.
TRANSLATED BY EDDY CHANG AND ETHAN HARKNESS
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