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IMPRISONMENT OF ACTIVIST WU KEEPS U.S.-CHINESE TALKS CHILLY

SHARE IMPRISONMENT OF ACTIVIST WU KEEPS U.S.-CHINESE TALKS CHILLY

Harry Wu wasn't in the room, but his plight cast a long shadow over Tuesday's meeting between Secretary of State Warren Christopher and Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen to discuss the dismal state of U.S.-China relations.

In remarks to reporters prior to the meeting, Christopher and Qian sought to avoid the impression they were locked into hard-line positions while acknowledging the seriousness they attach to Wu's arrest by China, as well as the visit to the United States by Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui.When asked how tough he intended to be when raising the Wu case, Christopher repeated his earlier assertion that he saw little chance of a meeting between President Clinton and Chinese President Jiang Zemin so long as Wu, a Chinese-born U.S. citizen, remained in prison.

He said he would raise the matter, but "I don't think it would be useful for me to try and speculate further."

Qian said he was ready to discuss with Christopher "how to remove the serious damages to Sino-U.S. relations caused by Lee Teng-hui's visit to the United States."

Christopher has repeatedly tried to assure the Chinese that the visit by the president of Taiwan did not change the U.S. position that Taiwan is part of China and not an independent country.

The Chinese foreign minister said that China attaches "great significance to these statements" but then cited a Chinese proverb that "words must come and deeds must give results."

Asked to respond to Christopher's remark that there is little chance of a meeting between Clinton and Jiang while Wu is incarcerated, Qian said the matter was in the Chinese legal process.

"This problem can only be resolved after the legal process of the case has been gone through," he said, a slight shift away from foreign ministry statements saying the Wu case had "no direct linkage" to relations between the two countries.