THE first high-ranking Chinese official to hold talks with the new Clinton administration, Mr Ye Qing, has received assurances that the United States will continue to value its relationship with China. Mr Ye, the vice-chairman of China's State Planning Commission, met the Deputy Secretary of State, Mr Clifton Wharton, and other senior Clinton administration officials in the Commerce Department and the Office of the US Trade Representative. Sources said Mr Ye used the meeting with Mr Wharton to get a feel of the new administration's China policy amidst indications that Washington will deal more firmly with Beijing. But the sources added that there was no specific discussion of major sensitive issues such as human rights or the renewal of China's most Favoured Nation (MFN) trade benefits. The sources said this was because President Mr Bill Clinton's China policy was still being formulated. Mr Wharton instead used the high-level meeting to express the importance of the Sino-US relationship. Sources said it was also made clear to Mr Ye that for the relationship to flourish, Washington expected Beijing to abide by the Section 301 agreement signed last October to open China's markets to outside goods. It was pointed out that one of Mr Clinton's major objectives was to promote the export of US goods to cut its foreign trade deficits. Mr Ye is in the US for a week-long visit as a guest of the major American telecommunications firm AT&T which is eager to capture a large slice of China's rapidly growing telecommunications market. Meanwhile, while meeting American businessmen in Beijing yesterday, Premier Mr Li Peng said Sino-US economic co-operation ''enjoys vast potentials and a broad prospect''. ''The two sides should make joint efforts to continuously improve and develop bilateral ties, including those in the economic, trade, scientific and technological fields,'' Mr Li said, adding ''this will benefit the two countries and two peoples''.