Wide range of contacts still under way

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 October, 2007, 12:00am

Despite Beijing's angry reaction after US President George W. Bush met the Dalai Lama, the two countries are maintaining contacts on a wide range of issues.

Tourism administration chairman Shao Qiwei said on Tuesday that consultations with Washington on making the United States an approved destination for mainland tourists had reached the specifics of an agreement, China News Service reported.

Separately, the head of the US food and drugs body held talks with the mainland's health chief and other government leaders last week.

Speaking at the 17th National Congress, Mr Shao said the tourism body and the US Commerce Department had held several rounds of technical-level talks on making the US an official travel destination. Visiting the mainland nearly a year ago, US Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez announced discussions had started.

To allow mass tourism, the mainland must grant 'approved destination status' to the US. The European Union already has that status.

Amid concerns over product safety, US Food and Drug Administration commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach met Chinese officials last week to discuss global medical research and public health concerns, the FDA said. 'Our discussions were very productive,' Dr von Eschenbach said.

Following a string of product recalls in the US, the US government launched negotiations with Chinese counterparts on product safety.