- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 31, 2000

No permanent enemies

A Chinese government spokesman yesterday insisted that Chinese have "positive feelings" about Americans but cannot understand why the U.S. media and some American officials hold such negative views about China.

Zhao Qizheng also fears that anti-China attitudes will infect the American presidential election, causing Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush to try to outdo each other with China-bashing campaign speeches.

Mr. Zhao, minister of the State Council Information Office, tried to present a modern face of China that wants to expand trade, promote the Internet for commercial benefits and end political tension with the United States.

Meanwhile, a public opinion poll released yesterday showed most Americans view China as one of the most unfriendly countries.

"When it comes to negative perceptions, 63 percent rate China as not friendly or as an enemy, followed by 54 percent who feel this way about Russia," according to a Harris poll of 1,010 adults.

They rate Britain and Canada as the closest U.S. allies.

Mr. Zhao, speaking at the National Press Club, said: "I believe, in international relations, there are no such things as permanent enemies. There's no reason for our countries to be eternal antagonists absolutely no reason."

Mr. Zhao noted some of the "stumbling blocks" in U.S.-Chinese relations listing "the Dalai Lama, Taiwan and human rights" but tried to place the blame for diplomatic tension on the United States.

China's state-controlled media tries to be "balanced" in reporting about the United States, he said.

"But Chinese feel that American media does not treat China that way, that American coverage of China tends to be inadequate and often inaccurate, sometimes downright prejudicial… . There are some people in the United States who want to find a reason to contain China," he said.

"Over time, this will distort how American people see China, so that during an American presidential election, candidates will feel that they have to say something negative about China."

Mr. Zhao also criticized the United States for proposing U.N. resolutions that denounced China's human rights record and for supporting Taiwan.

"Chinese people, especially young people who may have relatively positive feelings toward Americans … wonder why the U.S. likes to tell China how to run its own affairs," he said.

Mr. Zhao is touring the United States on a visit sponsored by major U.S. corporations, including Boeing Co., Viacom Inc. and Time Warner Inc.

Indian visitor

An Indian Foreign Ministry official is in Washington today to prepare for the visit of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Foreign Secretary Lalit Mansingh is scheduled to meet with Undersecretary of State Thomas Pickering.

India's top foreign official, Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh, is expected to meet with Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright next week at the U.N. Millennium Summit in New York.

In New Delhi yesterday, the Foreign Ministry announced that Mr. Vajpayee will delay his scheduled U.S. visit by two days. He is now due to leave on Sept. 7 for the summit in New York.

Reports in India noted that the announcement came amid concern for the health of the 73-year-old leader, who suffers from osteoarthritis and has had to cut short recent appearances at domestic events.

Mr. Vajpayee is due to speak at the Millennium Summit on Sept. 8. He has some events with the Indian-American community in New York after the summit and is due to arrive in Washington on Sept. 13.

Mr. Vajpayee addresses a joint session of Congress on Sept. 14 and meets President Clinton the next day.

His visit follows Mr. Clinton's trip to India in March.

Latin summit briefing

Brazilian Ambassador Rubens A. Barbosa holds a 9 a.m. news conference tomorrow at the National Press Club to discuss the first summit of South American presidents.

The two-day summit, which begins today in Brazil, is designed to strengthen democracy, expand trade and combat drug trafficking and other crimes.

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