Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan will hold talks in Washington with Secretary of State Colin Powell. The September 21 meetings will lay the groundwork for President Bush's visit to China in mid-October.
Secretary Powell's China visit last month helped improve the climate of the relationship after the spy-plane confrontation in April. But problems remain, as evidenced by an administration decision late last week to impose sanctions against a Chinese weapons firm for allegedly exporting sensitive missile technology to Pakistan.
A Chinese diplomat in Washington said earlier this week that Beijing had given the United States documentary evidence that the items sold to Pakistan did not violate a non-proliferation pledge China made to the United States last November.
But briefing reporters here, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher made clear the Bush administration found the Chinese explanation unconvincing. "I don't know what particular papers there might have been," he said. "I think it's safe to say that we didn't have a satisfactory response and that's why we felt we had to go ahead with the sanctions."
In addition to weapons-proliferation issues, the talks between Mr. Powell and his Chinese counterpart will deal with U.S. concerns about China's human rights record, efforts by the two governments to promote dialogue between North and South Korea and the Bush administration's missile-defense program which China opposes.
The talks are also expected to cover Taiwan, including charges that Chinese government is retaliating against U.S. banks having contacts with Taiwanese officials.
The issue surfaced this week with reports that China had removed the U.S. -based Credit Suisse First Boston bank from a list of underwriters of a Chinese telecommunications stock deal because it had invited Taiwan's finance minister to a Hong Kong conference.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the Bush administration is concerned about the matter and has raised it with the Chinese government.
A State Department official said there have been several recent cases of this sort, and that the United States believes that financing decisions in either China or Taiwan should be made on purely commercial grounds.