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Friday, 19 October, 2001, 18:45 GMT 19:45 UK
Apec overshadowed
Jiang Zemin and George Bush with delegations
The terrorism issue facilitated cordial US-China relations
By the BBC's Duncan Hewitt in Shanghai

Shanghai has pulled out all the stops for Apec, a meeting it hoped would help boost the city's international profile.

The authorities have spent some $50m dollars to give the city a facelift. They have built new conference facilities and put thousands of citizens through crash courses in English.

The 11 September attacks and the international campaign against terrorism have cast a long shadow over this gathering

They even ordered most citizens to take three days off work to ensure that the traffic flows smoothly during the Apec meetings, as well as closing 6,000 building sites so the world leaders can get a good night's sleep.

And to cap what was designed as a celebratory week, Shanghai hired an avant garde Chinese artist to design a massive fireworks display which will illuminate the city's waterfront.

Yet the 11 September attacks and the international campaign against terrorism have cast a long shadow over this gathering - security concerns mean local citizens will now be unable to get close enough to the river to see the fireworks display clearly.

Tight security has meant more road closures and longer delays getting into Apec meeting venues.

While the 21 Apec leaders were due to be focusing on the economic downturn confronting most of their nations, much of the debate is now centring on the campaign in Afghanistan and attempts to forge global consensus on terrorism.

The presence of US Secretary of State Colin Powell, and President Bush on his first visit abroad since the 11 September attacks has only sharpened the focus.

'Signal of support'

Apec ministers spent much of their meeting drawing up a declaration on terrorism to be endorsed by their leaders at the weekend.

Shanghai's Jinmao tower
Shanghai had a $50m facelift
And while countries like Malaysia, with a mainly Muslim population, called for an international conference to look at the root causes of terrorism, the US secretary of state said he had received a resounding signal of support from all Apec members.

Terrorism also dominated Friday's meeting between President Bush and Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

The US leader said it was a very difficult time to leave his country, but it was important to meet his Chinese counterpart because of the campaign against terror and the ties between what he described as "two great nations".

The cordial atmosphere between the two nations is another indication of just how far the terrorist issue is currently defining international relations.

Side by side

Only six months ago President Bush was talking of China as a strategic competitor, with tensions heightened by the collision between a US surveillance plane and a Chinese fighter, and by Mr Bush's decision to sell advanced military equipment to Taiwan.

EP3 spy plane
Spy plane row seriously disrupted US China relations
Now the US president is talking about standing side by side with China, and praising Beijing for what he called its unhesitating support in the fight against terrorism.

President Jiang made it clear that China does have concerns about the conduct of the military action in a country with which it shares a common border, stressing the need to do everything to avoid civilian casualties.

Yet President Bush said China had given him what he called a "firm commitment" to support the anti-terrorist campaign.

And the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman gave a further indication of how Beijing could benefit from cooperating with the US on this issue.

He said China had evidence that Islamic separatists in its northwestern region of Xinjiang had been trained in Afghanistan; he said they were therefore part of an international terrorist network and should be treated as such.

Mr Bush did make the point that fighting terrorism should not be used as an excuse to persecute ethnic minorities.

Yet there is little doubt that in the current cordial atmosphere between the two sides, China will be hoping for more understanding of its position on a number of issues - and sees this Apec meeting as having what its Foreign Ministry spokesman called guiding significance for the development of its relations with Washington in the months to come.

The BBC's Adam Brookes
"Relations between Beijing and Washington are usually only barely cordial"
The BBC's Jonathan Head
"Just six months ago it felt like a new cold war"
Richard Fisher, Jamestown Foundation, Washington
"Trust but verify"
See also:

18 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
China proud of its showcase city
18 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Apec condemns 'all forms' of terrorism
18 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Apec anti-terrorism draft statement
18 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
BBC News Online blocked at Apec
18 Oct 01 | Business
Apec backs world trade round
17 Oct 01 | Asia-Pacific
Spotlight on Shanghai security
17 Oct 01 | Americas
US takes anti-terror drive to Apec
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