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Wednesday, 29 April, 1998, 15:01 GMT 16:01 UK
Albright agrees on hot-line to China
US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, arrives in China
US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, predicts warmer times ahead
The American Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, has said that the Clinton administration intends to develop a warmer relationship with China for the 21st century.

One of the first engagements on her arrival in Beijing was to sign an agreement for a telephone hot-line between the White House and Beijing.

The visit is preparing the way for President Clinton's trip to China in June, which will mark the first time a US head of state has visited the country since the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre of pro-democracy protesters.

Tang Jiazan
Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan welcomed most of Albright's points
The strengthening ties between the US and China have caused some concern in Japan, which Mr Clinton will not be visiting on his summer trip. Japan has traditionally been the US's strongest ally in Asia.

Beijing is likely to seek Mrs Albright's reassurance that the guidelines on defence co-operation which she signed in Tokyo will not allow Japan to become involved in any potential conflict over Taiwan.

Meanwhile China is seeking to downplay controversy over allegations of missile transfers to Pakistan.

Focus on human rights

wang dan 150
Wang Dan: urges Albright to increase pressure on the release on political prisoners
Although China would prefer to focus on economic issues, human rights will also figure on the agenda.

China's recent announcement that it will sign the UN's main human rights covenant and the release last week of the 1989 student leader, Wang Dan, have been seen as part of a concerted campaign to defuse the issue of human rights.

The Chinese Foreign Minister, Tang Jiaxuan, said he welcomed Mrs Albright's positive approach, but suggested that the released dissidents risked being imprisoned again if they returned to China.

"If you want to bring up Wang Dan and other dissidents that's OK, but you should keep in mind that under Chinese law they are criminals who went to abroad to seek medical treatment under medical abroad. If at some point they want to come back, they will have to apply to the legal system to do it," he said.

There are an estimated 2,000 political prisoners still in detention in China.

Meanwhile, the China specialist Jonathan Mirsky told BBC News 24 that although the issue of human rights would be raised, it would not really be high on the US agenda.

He said the real purpose of the meeting was to discuss trade and weapons proliferation, and that human rights and Tibet would just be addressed for press conferences.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC News
Chinese foreign minister Tang Jiaxuan reminds Albright that Wang Dan is still on medical parole (0' 22")
BBC News
China specialist Jonathan Mirsky is cynical about commitment to human rights (3' 14")
BBC News
Wang Dan: "Being exiled doesn't weaken my effectiveness (4' 22")
See also:

09 Feb 98 | Asia-Pacific
China arrests more dissidents
04 Jun 98 | Asia-Pacific
Freed Chinese dissident arrives in US
29 Apr 98 | Asia-Pacific
Dissident raises the stakes
29 Apr 98 | Asia-Pacific
Albright arrives in China
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