Bush gets Chinese backing on terrorism

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The Independent Online

The American President, George Bush, met his Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, for the first time yesterday and secured Beijing's agreement to co-operate in the fight against terrorism.

While acknowledging their differences after a two-hour "mini-summit", the two leaders stressed "firm commitment" and "important consensus" on anti-terrorism measures.

The meeting took place in Shanghai at the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation forum, with President Bush anxious to bolster support for military action against Afghanistan from Apec's 21 members and to cement progress in what many observers predict will be this century's most important global relationship.

He appeared to have achieved these goals yesterday, but one thorn in Sino-American ties competed for attention.

Amid the swirl of bilateral meetings that characterises the annual Apec get-together, none will feature "Chinese Taipei" this weekend. Tensions flared yesterday when the Taiwanese delegation walked out in protest over Beijing's refusal to invite its leader to a meeting.

But the bulk of the Apec discussion focused on terrorism. President Bush, addressing fears that this new focus lent carte blanche to China and Russia to suppress dissent in Tibet, Xinjiang, Chechnya and elsewhere, raised the traditionally sensitive issue of human rights and reiterated that "the war on terrorism must never be an excuse to persecute minorities".

Mr Bush also spoke of Washington's worries over China's suspected missile proliferation to "rogue states". President Jiang expressed China's wish that "the role of the United Nations should be brought into full play" in the Afghan conflict.