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Clinton urged to restate Taiwan ban

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China wants President Clinton to reaffirm publicly that the United States will abide by commitments not to sell Taiwan advanced weapons, Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan said Tuesday.

"The president should, at an appropriate occasion, make a public statement reiterating what the U.S. has already promised on the Taiwan question," Tang said at a pre-summit news conference. "The U.S. side should also indicate it will take concrete actions to match the commitment it has made with deeds."China also would like to see the United States lift sanctions imposed by Washington after the 1989 military suppression of democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, in which hundreds, if not thousands, of civilians died.

Tang contended that attempts by the United States and other Western countries to penalize China for its violent handling of the protests and its suppression of dissent had not influenced China's policies.

"Sanctions are not a good thing. They merely are a reflection of power politics," Tang said.

Beijing blames the sanctions - frozen U.S.-backed loans for American companies; banned sales of weapons; and restricted exports of civilian technology such as supercomputers that have military uses - for contributing to a trade deficit with China that grew to $49.7 billion by Washington's count last year.

The criticism Clinton faces from members of Congress and human rights groups for being the first U.S. president to travel to China since the 1989 crackdown makes an immediate easing of the sanctions unlikely.

Given the scant progress on other issues, a public pledge by Clinton on Taiwan appears to be the only concrete measure China expects from the summit with President Jiang Zemin on Saturday in Beijing.

Top U.S. officials have reassured Taiwan, a staunch U.S. ally during the Cold War, that no such statements are planned.

Only a few minor agreements are expected on educational and military affairs, and prospects for a breakthrough on trade appear bleak.

U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky called a new Chinese market-opening proposal for getting into the World Trade Organization insufficient at the end of talks last week in Beijing.