Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Thursday, February 12, 2004

US Seventh Fleet warship to visit China

Blue Ridge, the command ship of the US Navy's Seventh Fleet is to visit east China's Shanghai porton Feb. 24-28, said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue Thursday in Beijing.


Blue Ridge, the command ship of the US Navy's Seventh Fleet is to visit east China's Shanghai port on Feb. 24-28, said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue Thursday in Beijing.

Zhang said at a regular press conference that the two sides are making preparations for the visit.

Military contacts between China and the United States will be more diversified and cover more spheres in 2004, Zhang said, adding that there will be high-level visits, contacts between academies, mechanical contacts and exchange of visits of warships as well.

"We are happy with the constant development of military and state relations between our two countries," she said.

The spokeswoman also briefed on the sixth round of Sino-US consultations on defense at the vice-ministerial level held on Tuesday in Beijing, saying both sides considered the consultations" positive and constructive."

The defense consultations signal the normalization of military exchanges between the two nations, and serve as an effective mechanism for maintaining the development of their military ties, Zhang said, adding that the sixth round of consultations indicated that the ties were being normalized.

During their consultations, the two sides exchanged views on regional and international issues, the Taiwan issue and the Korean Peninsula nuclear problem. They also reviewed the growth of their military ties since the fifth defense consultations, said Zhang.

Annual consultations between the defense departments of the two countries began in 1997. Previous consultations have been held in Washington and Beijing alternately. The fifth consultations were held in December 2002 in Washington.

Zhang said the two sides also notified each other of their military construction during the consultations.

China appreciates Powell's comments on Taiwan
Zhang expressed China's appreciation for US Secretary of State Colin Powell's comments that the United States saw no need for Taiwan's "referendum" in the near future.

Zhang said that China has recently seen the United States make such comments repeatedly, and China appreciates them.

Addressing a hearing at the International Relations Committee of the US House of Representatives, Powell said on Wednesday that Washington does not see the need for Taiwan to hold any "referendum."

"We don't really see a need for these referenda," Powell said. "We made it clear to them ... that we do not want to see these actions lead in any way to a change in the situation."

Zhang said that during Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's US trip last year, President George W. Bush made an explicit statement to him that the United States would adhere to the one-China policy, abide by the three Sino-US joint communiques, oppose Taiwan Independence, and oppose any unilateral moves that seek to alter the status-quo of Taiwan.

China has also stressed time and again that the Taiwan issue is most important and most sensitive among the Sino-US relations, said the spokeswoman, and China hopes the US side will abide by the three joint communiques and deal with the problem properly.

Duration of six-party talks not set yet
The duration of the upcoming six-party talks on the Korean nuclear issue has not been decided yet, the spokeswoman said.

All relevant sides, which are China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), the United States, Republic of Korea, Russia and Japan, were still consulting on the length of the second round of the talks, scheduled to open on Feb. 25 in Beijing, according to Zhang.

Relevant consultations on the talks were frequent recently. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Wang Yi, China's chief negotiator in the previous round of talks, "has just concluded a trip to Japan and will head for DPRK," Zhang said.

"Appropriate arrangements will be made" after further consultation between China and the United States, Russia and the DPRK, said Zhang.

The first round of the six-party talks lasted three days from Aug. 27 and 29, 2003.

By People's Daily Online

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