But analysts say North Korea will be main topic during visit US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected to voice concerns about the mainland's Anti-Secession Law and its military build-up during a visit to Beijing beginning tomorrow. In response, analysts said, the central government would explain the peaceful intent of the new law and reiterate its objection to including Taiwan as a security objective in the US-Japan strategic alliance. But they said the Taiwan issue was unlikely to dominate the talks because the US basically upheld the 'one China' principle. It was only objecting because it considered the timing of the anti-secession law counterproductive. By contrast, China, which played a crucial role in brokering the six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear crisis, will be pressed to find ways of nudging Pyongyang back to the negotiating table after a nine-month standoff. Zhang Liangui , professor of international relations at the Central Party School, said the deadlock was seen as giving time for North Korea to develop its nuclear weapons capability. Patience was running out among the other parties - China, the US, Japan, South Korea and Russia. 'North Korea is determined to have its nuclear warheads,' he said. After intensive lobbying by a senior Chinese official last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il said he might consider returning to the talks. Shi Yinhong , director of American Studies at the People's University in Beijing, said Taiwan would be discussed in the context of reducing tension across the Taiwan Strait. Dr Rice recognises the issue as the most important question in Sino-US relations and another flashpoint of conflict in East Asia. Specifically, the US might press the mainland to take goodwill steps towards Taiwan - for instance, dropping its opposition to Taiwan's participation in international bodies such as the World Health Organisation. Beijing might give careful consideration to such proposals, he said. Like typical diplomatic skirmishes between big powers, the exchange would unlikely produce genuine understanding, Professor Shi said. On the other hand, the chance of cross-strait tension flaring up into open conflict was also remote. Earlier this month, the US and China traded barbs on human rights after the US State Department released its annual review of global human rights, which described the mainland's rights record as 'poor'. However, the US has decided against seeking to condemn the mainland at this year's UN Human Right Commission session.