Friction in wake of visit triumph

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 July, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 06 July, 1998, 12:00am

While the White House presents President Clinton's mainland visit as a victory for his policy of engagement, the trip has left friends of the US feeling sore and caused friction in China's diplomatic relations.

An East European diplomat said Russian President Boris Yeltsin was unhappy with the reception China accorded Mr Clinton, believing it was bigger than the welcome Mr Yeltsin received when he visited in 1996.

More fallout was caused by the US Embassy in Beijing's refusal to brief European Union diplomats on the visit, instead sending a standard press release to then EU president Britain.

It is normal practice for the embassy of a visiting political leader to brief other embassies on the visit.

Instead, the US Embassy in Beijing told its allies that their ambassadors in Washington would be briefed at a later date and that no briefing would be given in Beijing.

The decision meant the only official account of the visit to be transmitted from Beijing to European capitals was based on talks with Chinese officials.

Details of the account so far have hinted at a visit to the US at the end of this year or early 1999 by Premier Zhu Rongji.

In a briefing to European diplomats, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's American department confirmed that the American President had asked for the release of categories of prisoners rather than individuals, a reference understood to mean those held for 'counter-revolutionary offences'.

Chinese officials said Mr Clinton wanted wholesale rather than piecemeal releases.




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