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Sound Sino-US ties in interests of both: Hu
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08:19, November 07, 2007

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China and the United States should intensify dialogue and properly handle sensitive bilateral issues to promote the healthy and stable development of ties, President Hu Jintao said yesterday.

"To maintain sound development of the Sino-US relationship is in the fundamental interests of the two countries and two peoples, and will help maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and the world as a whole," Hu said when meeting US Defense Secretary Robert Gates in Beijing.

Hu also briefed Gates on China's position over the Taiwan question and the latter assured him that the US government is opposed to any move by Taiwan authorities toward independence.

"I restated our position that we're opposed to any efforts by anyone to unilaterally change the status quo," Gates told reporters after his talks with Hu. "I basically reiterated that the US government has been quite clear in its messages to Taiwan not to change the status quo."

Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian is pushing for a referendum next year on UN membership in the name of Taiwan, which Beijing considers as a move toward de jure independence.

Beijing and Washington share common interests on the Taiwan question, Qian Lihua, director of the foreign affairs office of the Defense Ministry, told China Daily. "They both hope the situation across the Taiwan Straits does not get out of control."

But he hesitated to link the Taiwan question to a direct military hotline that has been agreed to be set up between the two defense ministries.

The telephone link is designed for military and defense leaders of the two countries to communicate on major urgent issues, Qian said.

"As to what kind of issues are to be discussed via the hotline and how to define the sensitive topics to be discussed, need further consultations."

The military hotline is the first of its kind that China will set up with another country at the defense ministry level.

Qian said there would be more contacts and exchanges between Chinese and the US militaries. "I think, indeed, there are some differences between our two countries and our two armed forces. We do not ignore those differences. As partners and friends, we believe those differences cannot overshadow the prospect of increased cooperation."

Gates wound up his three-day visit yesterday and flew to the Republic of Korea to continue his Asian tour, which will also take him to Japan.

Source: China Daily

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