Respect our interests on Taiwan and Tibet issues, Beijing tells Clinton
Teddy Ng in Beijing, Stuart Lau and Chris Ip
State Councillor Dai Bingguo yesterday urged the United States to respect Beijing's interests when dealing with Taiwan and Tibet issues, amid rising tensions between the two sides after US President Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama this month.
Dai, who is in charge of China's foreign policy, made the remarks when meeting US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in Shenzhen following her visit to Hong Kong.
The meeting was not included in the original itinerary of her current tour. Xinhua described it as informal with the two sides exchanging views on bilateral ties and issues of common concern.
CCTV reported that the two discussed Taiwan, Tibet and AsiaPacific issues. It said both sides stressed the importance of respecting the interests of each other, as well as enhancing mutual trust, without elaborating on the details.
Beijing strongly condemned the meeting between Obama and the Dalai Lama, which took place on July 16, saying the US had severely interfered in China's internal affairs.
The meeting between Dai and Clinton came as the Obama administration is considering whether to sell Taiwan 66 F-16 jets - a decision that will be made by October 1. Taiwan is trying to buy F-16 C/D model jets, but reports indicate that the US may only allow for the upgrade of F-16 A/B models, in order to minimise damage to Sino-US ties. The US-Taiwan Business Council said it did not expect the sale of new jets to go through.
Beijing is likely to react furiously to any US arms sales to Taiwan.
Overseas media earlier reported that Wang Yi , director of the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, was due in Washington yesterday for talks concerning the arms sale. His office refused to confirm the report.
Dai and Clinton also pledged to promote peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, amid rising tensions in the South China Sea. Xinhua said they also discussed the Korean Peninsula.
Before going to Shenzhen, Clinton met Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen and held a 40-minute discussion with four Hong Kong lawmakers.
Democratic Party chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said Clinton expressed concerns about China's human rights lawyers, who are often suppressed by authorities, and she recognised lawyers' importance in contributing to a jurisdiction's rule of law.
'She was pretty skilful in stopping short of mentioning things that would otherwise be perceived as interfering in Hong Kong's and China's politics,' Ho said.
Starry Lee Wai-king, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said: 'She said it was good to see China's continuous economic development but she hoped for more openness in its economy and politics.'
Civic Party lawmaker Audrey Eu Yuet-mee and the Liberal Party's Tommy Cheung Yu-yan also attended the meeting. With Clinton was Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell, the White House's National Security Council Asian director Daniel Russell, and US consul general Stephen Young.
Clinton also gave a speech to Asian business leaders. She played down fears of a possible US debt default, saying Americans should change their consumer culture.
'We in the United States are in the middle of a necessary transition,' she said. 'We must save more and spend less. And we must not only save more and spend less, we must borrow less as well. Our partners must meet these changes with changes of their own.'