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FBI: Washington's Partnership with Beijing, Hong Kong Strong Against Terrorism - 2004-04-22

The head of the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation says Washington's partnership with Beijing and Hong Kong is strong in the fight against terrorism, but warned the need for vigilance remains high.

FBI Director Robert Mueller praised Hong Kong for having what he calls one of the finest police forces in the world. He said the territory's partnership with the FBI on cases ranging from cyber crime to port security is an example for other governments to follow.

During his visit to Hong Kong, Mr. Mueller urged continued vigilance against the threat of terrorism. He warns that Hong Kong's commercial importance and large international community could potentially make it a terror target in the future.

?I think the Hong Kong police does a very good job? but it is a financial center. And al-Qaida and other groups? often desire to strike at financial centers such as Hong Kong,? Mr. Mueller said.

Mr. Mueller says U.S. agents are working with Hong Kong police at the territory's massive shipping ports.

U.S. authorities fear terrorists may seek to hide chemical, biological, or even nuclear weapons inside containers bound for the United States. Mr. Mueller points out that one out of every 10 shipping containers that ends up in the United States passes through Hong Kong.

Earlier this week, Mr. Mueller visited Beijing, the first visit to the Chinese capital by an FBI chief.

He says China is cooperating to help keep terrorist groups from obtaining dangerous weapons.

?The understanding with Beijing, as with other countries, is we do not want, we do not need, we cannot risk the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,? Mr. Mueller said.

He says the Chinese and U.S. governments are working closely together to extradite criminals who flee one country for the other.