CHINESE President Jiang Zemin will not be welcome in the United States before the release of jailed American activist Harry Wu Hongda, US Secretary of State Warren Christopher has warned. Although Mr Christopher flew to Brunei yesterday carrying President Bill Clinton's invitation to Mr Jiang to travel to New York for a summit meeting, he was said to have explained before touching down that it was 'very difficult for me to envision any circumstances under which President Jiang Zemin would be able to visit if Harry Wu was not released'. His remarks, with Chinese officials' statements yesterday, indicated relations were deeply strained by the issues of Taiwan, Wu's detention, the Spratly Islands dispute and nuclear arms. As Mr Christopher arrived for talks with China's Foreign Minister Qian Qichen parallel to this week's Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting, Mr Qian's spokesman said the US could expect no concessions for its 'great mistake' in issuing a visa in June to Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui. 'The US must take actions to stop further damage . . . it's up to the US to correct its mistakes,' Shen Guofang said. 'It should be very clear on what action it should take. Should the US Government fail, it would be very difficult for relations to be improved. 'What we are going to do is to make the US realise the importance of Sino-US relations to prompt them to take the right track,' Mr Shen said. He said China would not allow the Wu case to be politicised, and the US should respect the independence of the country's judiciary. 'Harry Wu is an independent criminal case. We will wait for his trial and sentence under the judicial process of China,' he said. Mr Shen refused to comment on whether Mr Jiang would accept the invitation, saying China had heard nothing officially. He repeatedly refused to specify what Mr Christopher would have to do to restore relations. 'I think they know what to do. If you are steering a ship and it deviates from its course, you should know how to get it back.' Mr Shen said the Taiwan issue was the key to restoring ties with Washington after the US had violated the three communiques governing the relationship, which binds the US to a 'one-China' policy. Mr Lee's visit was purportedly for a private trip to his former university Cornell but received huge media attention. Mr Qian is to see Mr Christopher for about 30 minutes in a side meeting set to dominate today's 18-member ASEAN Regional Forum on security issues. Winston Lord, the Assistant Secretary of State for Asia and the Pacific, will also be involved. Mr Lord recently orchestrated a strong declaration of State Department interest in keeping South China Sea routes open. In the run-up to today's talks, China has sought to publicly move a string of issues off the agenda, with Mr Shen insisting the US should have 'no interest' in the settling of disputes over the Spratly Islands. Last night, he said the US should 'lead the way' in banning nuclear tests as it has the largest store of weapons. Both China's occupation of Mischief Reef on the edge of Philippine waters and its recent nuclear missile tests are tipped to surface in bilateral talks but Beijing refuses to discuss the Spratlys under any circumstances with the US. However, China is expected to face stiff questions during the forum, only in its second year. It said on Sunday night the forum was too new to handle tough questions such as the Spratlys and surrounding waters. Instead, the most 'practical' option was that all claimants should deal directly with China, which had 'indisputable sovereignty' of the area.