Hu Jintao

Taiwan is 'core issue' on Hu's agenda

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 April, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 April, 2006, 12:00am

Beijing hopes Washington will help rein in pro-independence forces on the island, says top diplomat

President Hu Jintao is ready to address Washington's concerns over trade and the yuan as well as China's rising military spending during his upcoming US visit, but Taiwan remains his priority, a top mainland diplomat said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi yesterday played down questions over the timing of next week's visit, which comes at a time when US concerns over the mainland's economic and military threats are on the rise.

'It is fairly natural that people in one country hold different views towards developing ties with another country,' he said.

Vice-Premier Wu Yi's trip to the United States this week, which was aimed at preparing the way for Mr Hu's visit, had set a good tone for the presidential summit at the White House next week, the former ambassador to the US said.

China had sealed deals for US$16.2 billion worth of US products during Ms Wu's mission, including the purchase of 80 Boeing aircraft and American software.

'It showed that disputes between the two countries can be solved through dialogue and consultation,' Mr Yang said.

Confirming that Taiwan remained Beijing's top concern in dealing with Washington, he said the mainland hoped the US would join its efforts to rein in pro-independence forces on the island.

'The Taiwan question is the most important and the most sensitive core issue in the China-US relationship. It is natural for the leaders of the two countries to talk about it,' he said.

'I want to reiterate that China hopes the US will live up to its commitments and send no wrong signals to the Taiwanese authorities and the secessionist forces.'

Opposing Taiwan independence was 'also in the interests of the US and the international community'.

Mr Yang said Mr Hu was ready to discuss the mainland's soaring trade surplus and disputes over the value of the yuan but People's Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan would not go on the trip.

'China will continue with the exchange rate reform out of considerations of China's domestic situation and the interests of the world. We are willing to hold exchanges with other countries on the question of the exchange rate,' he said.

'The Chinese side attaches great importance to the concerns of the US regarding the imbalance in two-way trade.'

Mr Yang said Mr Hu would also reiterate China's commitment to peaceful development during his US trip, in a bid to allay fears over its increasing military spending.

Energy co-operation and the nuclear programmes in Iran and North Korea would also be important topics for the two leaders.

'We hope all parties will exercise restraint and keep sober-minded to seek a peaceful solution to the question of Iran's nuclear programme through negotiations,' he said. 'Dialogue is better than confrontation.'

State Councillor Tang Jiaxuan, Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, Commerce Minister Bo Xilai and National Development and Reform Commission director Ma Kai would accompany Mr Hu to the US.