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Bush Plans Third Visit to China - 2002-10-29

Top Chinese officials say President Bush will be visiting China again. Planning for the visit is beginning just a few days after Chinese President Jiang Zemin went to Mr. Bush's Texas ranch.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao says President Bush has accepted an invitation from President Jiang Zemin to visit China again, though he did not say when.

This will be Mr. Bush's third visit to China since he took office nearly two years ago, and his fourth meeting with the top leadership. Analysts say the frequent contacts are a sign of improving relations between Washington and Beijing. Mr. Liu says the talks will be of major importance in maintaining the strategic dialogue between the two countries.

The spokesman says at last week's summit meeting in Texas, President Jiang and President Bush had frank talks about their differences over Taiwan.

Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province that should return to central government control, by force if necessary. Washington says it will help defend the democratic island from an unprovoked Chinese attack, and sells Taipei weapons. Mr. Liu also says China is satisfied with the results of the recent talks with the United Sates on their shared concern about terrorism.

China's support in the U.S. led war on terrorism helped repair relations between Washington and Beijing. Relations were badly strained last year, when Chinese and American military planes collided, killing a Chinese pilot.

President Jiang is expected to retire from his leadership posts next month. That means Mr. Bush will be meeting with a new host when he visits China again.