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China Not a Threat, US Delegation Told in Beijing - 2001-08-09

A delegation of U.S. Senators continued talks with top Chinese officials in Beijing Thursday, saying the two sides have strong disagreements, and a desire to get U.S.-Chinese relations back on track.

Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji told the visiting Senate delegation Thursday China "cannot, and will not, be a threat to the United States or other countries of the world." He also said Beijing's primary focus is on economic development.

China expressed its view of earlier talks by putting a large picture of President Jiang Zemin shaking hands with the head of the U.S. delegation, Senator Joseph Biden on the front page of a government-controlled newspaper. Both men have broad smiles, and an accompanying story's headline highlights improving Sino-U.S. ties.

Relations between Washington and Beijing were badly strained several months ago, when military planes from the two nations collided, killing a Chinese pilot. There is also friction over trade, human rights, and the detention of U.S. trained scholars on spying allegations.

Senator Biden says China's president admits there are flaws in the way China handles spying allegations and other legal matters. "President Jiang Zemin, in response to a question from Senator Specter about human rights and the detention of American citizens in China, was very candid in saying his judicial system left much to be desired, and it needed to be worked on," Mr. Biden said.

With that in mind, the senators are scheduled to visit a Chinese university that is working with a U.S. university to improve China's legal system.

The senators also traveled to a village near Beijing for a look at life in rural China. About two-thirds of China's population live in the countryside.