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China Pledges Long-term Cooperation with US - 2002-03-06

China is playing down its differences with the United States and is pledging long-term cooperation with Washington. This comes just one day after Beijing reacted angrily to a U.S. report criticizing China's human rights abuses.

Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan says China and the United States continue to enjoy a constructive, cooperative relationship, despite their disagreements.

At a news conference in Beijing Wednesday, Mr. Tang said that friendly Sino-American relations are in the long-term interests of both countries, and vital to preserving world peace and stability. He says China will continue to narrow its differences with the United States through increased contact.

Mr. Tang made no mention of a host of disagreements still dogging Sino-American relations, ranging from human rights and religious freedoms to missile defense and nonproliferation. Just one day earlier, Beijing lashed out against the U.S. State Department's annual human rights report, which criticized China for its abuse of religious and other freedoms.

Chinese and American officials now are holding talks in Washington about China's alleged exports of weapons technology to countries such as Pakistan and Iran. During his visit to Beijing two weeks ago, Mr. Bush failed to clinch an agreement on arms proliferation.

In his only indication of dissatisfaction with the United States, Mr. Tang said China strongly opposes the Taiwan Relations Act. The act obliges the United States to defend Taiwan if it comes under attack from the mainland. He says Taiwan is the most important and sensitive issue in Sino-American relations.

Separately, Mr. Tang said China wants to preserve close and friendly relations with both of its South Asian neighbors, India and Pakistan. He called on both countries to use peaceful means to resolve their disputes. An attack on India's Parliament late last year by suspected Pakistani terrorists brought the two nuclear-armed nations to the verge of war.