- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2002

Chinese envoy a 'Texan'

Chinese Ambassador Yang Jiechi became an honorary Texan on a recent visit to Houston, but he did not let the tribute blur his message about U.S. relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Mr. Yang told the Houston branch of the Asia Society that Taiwan, which China regards as a renegade province, is the "most important and most sensitive issue at the heart of China-U.S. relations." He cautioned the United States against selling weapons to Taiwan.

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President Bush has vowed to defend the democratic government in Taiwan against any attempt by the communist mainland to take over the island by force. The United States has maintained informal diplomatic contacts with Taiwan since recognizing China in 1979.

Mr. Yang, in his speech last month, said, "Properly handling the [Taiwan] question is the key to promoting our constructive and cooperative relations.

"Selling sophisticated weapons to Taiwan or upgrading U.S.-Taiwan relations is inconsistent with [U.S.] commitments, serving neither peace nor stability in the Taiwan Straits nor the China-U.S. relationship and the common interests of the two countries."

Mr. Yang said he hopes for better relations between Washington and Beijing.

"Due to differences in history, culture, social system and economic development level, it is natural for China and the U.S. to have some divergence of opinion on certain issues," he said.

"China needs to deepen its understanding of the U.S., so does the U.S. of China. Enhanced understanding and trust between the two sides will help boost a healthy growth of bilateral relations."

Mr. Yang also called for greater U.S. investment in China and noted that his nation's development presents "no threat to any country in the world." He said that China, with a gross domestic product of about $800 per capita, "will take decades" to reach levels of developed countries.

The ambassador also reiterated China's support for the war against terrorism.

"Terrorism is a public enemy of all mankind," he said.

Mr. Yang's designation as an honorary Texan is a special tribute for the 51-year-old diplomat, who began his career as an interpreter for President Bush's father when he visited China in 1977. The elder Mr. Bush invited Mr. Yang to the White House during his presidency.

Mr. Yang's next major task is to prepare for an Oct. 25 meeting between Chinese President Jiang Zemin and Mr. Bush at the president's Crawford, Texas, ranch.

Hot wheels for Kazakhs

The United States expressed its appreciation for Kazakhstan's cooperation in the war on terrorism with a donation of 15 rugged off-road vehicles for its border guards.

U.S. Ambassador Larry Napper last week presented the keys to the UAZ four-wheelers produced by Russia's UAZ factory. These vehicles are considered among the world's toughest.

The U.S. Embassy in the Kazakh capital, Astana, said the donation recognizes "Kazakhstan's strategic importance and contribution to the global war on terror." Congress allocated $5.1 million to help improve border controls in the Central Asian nation.

In December, U.S. Ambassador to Uzbekistan John Herbst presented eight UAZs to help the nation control its borders.

Reich in Honduras

The top U.S. diplomat for Latin American issues left Nicaragua yesterday, after praising the government's efforts to fight corruption.

Otto Reich, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, flew on to Honduras for talks with top government leaders in the capital, Tegucigalpa.

"I believe Nicaraguans have the ability and the will to find solutions to their problems, perhaps with the help of outsiders, but they themselves must seek those solutions," Mr. Reich told members of the Nicaraguan Congress before he departed Managua.

He praised Nicaraguan President Enrique Bolanos for his fight against corruption and his promotion of capitalism. The government is investigating several officials who have served under President Arnoldo Aleman, now speaker of the legislature.

In Honduras, Mr. Reich had meetings scheduled with President Ricardo Maduro and Foreign Minister Guillermo Perez, the U.S. Embassy said.

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