Jiang called top secret meeting to save Zhu's U.S. visit.
WASHINGTON, April 7 Kyodo Chinese President Jiang Zemin called an emergency meeting April 2 to quash opposition from high-ranking politicians to Premier Zhu Rongji's visit to the United States, an American China watcher said Wednesday. Prior to Zhu's departure, rumors had circulated among diplomats and foreign media that the Chinese leadership was considering canceling Zhu's April 6-14 trip to the U.S. amid growing anti-Chinese sentiment in Washington. ''The Standing Committee of the Politburo had a special meeting (on April 2) that was, in effect, a knockdown, drag-out discussion about whether the premier ought to indeed come'' to the U.S., David Lampton, director of China studies at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, said, quoting Chinese sources he met in Shanghai. Lampton's comments indicated the deep split within the Chinese leadership over its policy on the U.S. The results of Zhu's visit are expected to have a significant impact on China's domestic policy. Lampton was in China from the end of March through early April as part of a bipartisan delegation of U.S. congressional leaders including Republican Senator William Roth of Delaware and Democratic Rep. David Bonior of Michigan. Lampton told a forum in Washington that Zhu met the group in Beijing on March 31. Lampton said Zhu told him that a number of people were urging the premier not to go to the U.S. because of differences between the countries over the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia and Washington's resolution condemning Beijing for alleged human rights violation at the U.N. convention in Geneva. Zhu did not disclose the names of those who opposed the visit during the March 31 meeting with the group, according to Lampton. But the sources Lampton met later in Shanghai said some politburo members strongly opposed Zhu's visit to the U.S., Lampton said. Jiang, who doubles as Communist Party Secretary General, intervened by calling an emergency meeting of the seven-member Standing Committee of the Political Bureau on April 2, the sources were quoted as saying. Jiang, committed to improving U.S.-China relations under his ''strategic partnership'' slogan, quelled such opposition, the sources said, according to Lampton. The sources did not disclose which politburo members were against Zhu's scheduled visit to the U.S., Lampton said. Opposition forces do not necessarily oppose China's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) and ongoing market-reform efforts, the sources were quoted as saying. In a pre-departure interview with the Wall Street Journal published Tuesday, Zhu cryptically alluded to the standoff. ''We have given this matter repeated consideration, and we set store by the overall China-U.S. relations,'' Zhu said. Though canceling the visit ''crossed (his) mind,'' Zhu told the U.S. newspaper, ''President Jiang Zemin and the Chinese leadership still decided that I should travel to the United States, that I should accept President Clinton's invitation to the U.S.'' Lampton has close ties with the Chinese government. In 1990, as president of the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, Lampton organized a visit to the U.S. by Zhu, who was then mayor of Shanghai.