Hopes fade for thaw at US-China meeting and China meet Chinese and US to meet in slim hope of a thaw

The American Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, is due to meet his Chinese counterpart, Qian Qichen, in Brunei tomorrow with expectations of an improvement in Sino-US relations about as low as they can be.

The foreign ministers will hold talks on the fringes of an Association of South-East Asian Nations regional security meeting, the first high- level contact since the present collapse in bilateral relations. Peking was enraged last month by the visit of the Taiwanese president, Lee Teng- hui, to the US. At the top of Washington's agenda, however, is the arrest in China of Harry Wu Hongda, the naturalised American human rights campaigner.

The Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, Shen Guofang, reiterated at the weekend: "The Taiwan issue is very important, very crucial ... It is up to them [the US] to take the concrete actions." On Friday, Mr Christopher restated the US policy on China and stressed that both countries bore the burden of trying to maintain stable ties.

"We recognise that the government of the PRC [People's Republic of China] is the sole legal government of China," Mr Christopher said. "We acknowledge the Chinese position that there is but one China and that Taiwan is part of China."

That received short shrift from China. "The US administration has repeated in words its adherence to the one-China policy. But it has violated the spirit and letter of the three Sino-US communiques," Mr Shen said, referring to the establishment of ties between the countries in 1972.

Analysts see little chance of any breakthrough in Brunei. "The meeting is important just because it is happening," David Shambaugh, reader in Chinese politics at London University's School of Oriental and African Studies, said. "It is the beginning of what should hopefully be a continuous dialogue at least at that level, preferably at a higher level. But one should not expect too much out of that meeting. "

Sino-US relations are widely perceived as being at their most acrimonious since after the June 1989 Tiananmen massacre. Peking has privately defined the "concrete actions" which it wants from Washington, including an apology from President Bill Clinton over the Lee Teng-hui visit, and a promise it will not happen again - demands that the US will not meet. The Chinese "are the ones who have boxed themselves into a corner. They are the ones who have raised the stakes", Dr Shambaugh said.

While China focuses on Taiwan, the US is preoccupied by the fate of Mr Wu. Mr Shen said yesterday that Mr Wu's case "has nothing to do with China- US relations ... It is up to the legal system," though he did concede that it was not purely an internal Chinese affair "because he [Mr Wu] is an American citizen - but he violated Chinese law".

Bargaining over Mr Wu's predicament will centre on Peking's request for Hillary Clinton to head the US delegation to the Fourth World Conference on Women in Peking in September. President Jiang Zemin would also appreciate an invitation to the US to coincide with the UN's 50th anniversary celebrations in New York that same month.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
i100
News
Budapest, 1989. Sleepware and panties.
newsDavid Hlynsky's images of Soviet Union shop windows shine a light on our consumerist culture
News
In humans, the ability to regulate the expression of genes through thoughts alone could open up an entirely new avenue for medicine.
science
News
Williams says: 'The reason I got jobs was because they would blow the budget on the big guys - but they only had to pay me the price of a cup of tea'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A sketch of Van Gogh has been discovered in the archives of Kunsthalle Bremen in Germany
arts + ents
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

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Associate - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL FIRM - A...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Law Costs - London City

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - EXCELLENT FIRM - We have an outstandin...

Austen Lloyd: In-House Solicitor / Company Secretary - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: IN-HOUSE - NATIONAL CHARITY - An exciting and...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee