U.S. Leaders Meet Chinese Vice Premier
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Mar. 23, 2001 President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld met separately with Chinese Vice Premier Qian Qichen March 22 and discussed a range of U.S.- China issues.
Bush told reporters before the meeting at the White House that U.S. relations with China are complex. He said he would express U.S. positions firmly and expected the vice premier to be equally firm.
"It is in our nation's best interests that we have good relations with China," Bush said.
Qian echoed Bush. "Where we have shared interests, we can advance our relationship," the vice premier said. "Where we disagree, we can have very good exchange of views. Some issues can be approached in the spirit of seeking common ground, while shelving the differences."
Pentagon spokesman Navy Rear Adm. Craig Quigley said the talks between Rumsfeld and Qian were straightforward. The two leaders spent most of their time discussing military- to-military exchanges, he said, but other issues included the two countries' defense budgets, nonproliferation issues and the mutual interest in further developing good bilateral relations.
He said Rumsfeld stressed the U.S. perspective on military- to-military exchanges is that they be mutually beneficial to both nations. "Reciprocity should be kind of a watchword and a guidepost as we design these things in the months ahead," Quigley said during a news conference.
Rumsfeld and Qian did not discuss Taiwan, which China considers a renegade province, or U.S. missile defense plans, which China opposes.
Bush is set to visit China in the fall.