Chilly air at US-China summit

New York - The US last night claimed modest progress in its relations with China after talks between President Bill Clinton and his Chinese counterpart, Jiang Zemin, saying they agreed to open dialogue in new areas, including money-laundering and the export of illegal immigrants, writes David Usborne.

But US hopes that China would commit itself to supporting the zero option for the nuclear test-ban treaty being negotiated in Geneva, under which tests even on a tiny scale would be outlawed, were disappointed. Nor did Mr Clinton offer any promise to Mr Jiang to refuse outright further visits to the US by Taiwan's leaders.

Earlier, Mr Jiang used a speech at the 50th-anniversary celebration of the UN to deliver a sharp jab at the US, criticising "big powers" that seek to interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.

US-Chinese relations took a downturn in spring, when Mr Clinton allowed President Lee Teng-hui of Taiwan to make a private visit to the US. Strains have also arisen because of China's treatment of dissidents, including Harry Wu, a US citizen convicted of spying and stealing state secrets before being deported in August.

"The peaceful reunification of the two sides of the Taiwan straits is the unshakeable will and determination of the entire Chinese people," Mr Jiang said. In a television interview this week he reiterated that "one cannot rule out the military option" against Taiwan.

But in remarks that appeared to be directed at the US and its efforts in the past to link trade with progress on human rights, Mr Jiang said: "Certain big powers, often under the cover of 'freedom', 'democracy' and 'human rights', set out to encroach upon the sovereignty of other countries, interfere in their internal affairs and undermine their national unity and ethnic harmony. This has become a principal cause for the intranquillity in the world today."

After the summit, the US Under-Secretary of State for East Asia, Winston Lord, said there had been a "step forward" in relations, but added: "I wouldn't want to suggest there are not problems remaining. There are some serious problems."

On human rights, Mr Clinton raised some specific cases with Mr Jiang. He also reiterated that the US would not support Chinese membership of the World Trade Organisation unless it came forward with a new offer on opening its markets. "We believe that China has not yet made a sufficient offer," Mr Lord said.

Many passages in Mr Jiang's speech were unlikely to sit well with those seeking freedom for Tibet, including Tibetan nationalists who have been on a hunger strike at the UN building. Mr Jiang sought to condemn governments that "deliberately ignore the colourful and diverse reality of the world and practise such hegemonic acts as imposing one's social system" on other nations.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Day In a Page

The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'