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Sino-U.S. diplomatic blitz intensifies.

BEIJING, March 21 Kyodo

The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, the first of four U.S. cabinet-level officials to visit Beijing this month, held a lengthy meeting with Chinese President Jiang Zemin in Beijing's Zhongnanhai leadership compound Tuesday afternoon, state media reported.

The official Xinhua News Agency reported Richard Holbrooke and Jiang talked about a wide range of bilateral and U.N. affairs, including China's policy toward Taiwan.

Earlier in the day, Holbrooke, a leading candidate for secretary of state should Al Gore win the U.S. presidential election, met with Vice Premier Qian Qichen and Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan.

"The talks were excellent, we spent about two hours with the foreign minister. We talked about U.N. issues, we talked about everything, human rights, (the) U.N., Taiwan, everything," Holbrooke told reporters after his meeting with Tang.

The Taiwan issue tops the list of "extraordinary events of recent weeks" Holbrooke discussed with senior Chinese leaders Tuesday. Referring to his talks with Tang on the issue, he described the talks as "constructive."

Other top issues include China's WTO candidacy and the theater missile defense (TMD) plan.

Holbrooke, whose U.N. post holds cabinet rank, is the latest in a steady stream of top U.S. officials to visit the Chinese capital.

In February, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbot led a team that discussed security issues with top Chinese military and civilian leaders. Adm. Dennis Blair, head of the U.S. Pacific Command, followed two weeks later.

Next week, National Security Advisor Sandy Berger is to visit Beijing, followed by Agriculture Secretary Dan Glickman and Commerce Secretary William Daley.

"I think (the visits) illustrate very clearly the enormous importance that all Americans place on relations between the United States and the People's Republic of China," Holbrooke told Tang.

After his meeting with the foreign minister, Holbrooke told reporters Washington's intense diplomatic push implies "that the president and the administration are totally committed to getting permanent normal trading relations passed and to working in a constructive manner."

The trade question is of particular concern because under World Trade Organization (WTO) rules all members offer each other similar trading rights.

The two sides also clashed over the sensitive issue of human rights, with China publicizing strongly worded statements about Washington's pending censure of Beijing at the U.N. Commission on Human Rights in Geneva.

"If the U.S. side is bent on confrontation, China will oblige it and fight to the finish, and this practice of the U.S. side to go against the tide of history cannot attain the support of the vast majority of member nations of the United Nations," the official Xinhua News Agency reported Tang as telling Holbrooke.

The U.S. has never successfully pushed a resolution through the commission.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Date:Mar 27, 2000
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