Chinese promise to improve human rights


US Secretary of State Mr Colin Powell concluded a visit to China with a commitment from Beijing to resume a dialogue on human rights.

Sino-US ties took a turn for the worse in April after the mid-air collision of a US spy plane with a Chinese fighter jet.

That incident sparked a bitter 11-day diplomatic standoff as Washington pushed for release of the US crew after the plane made an emergency landing on China's southern province of Hainan.

"Six months into our administration, there have been a few ups and downs," Mr Powell told Chinese state television in a recorded interview aired today. "But for the most part I think we are now moving forward in a positive direction."

President Bush will travel to China in October for a meeting of Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation economic leaders in Shanghai before moving on to Beijing for a state visit.

Mr Powell, who arrived yesterday for the one-day visit, met Chinese President Jiang Zemin and other top leaders to lay improve diplomatic relations ahead of President Bush’s visit.

Officials from both countries sounded a positive note after a full day of meetings yesterday, though they said differences remained on a range of issues.

"China and the United States have some differences, but our common interests are greater," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Mr Sun Yuxi.

With the spy plane incident resolved, Mr Powell said it was time for the two countries to move on.

"We can't allow incidents like this to contaminate the whole relationship," he told state television. "We have to face them fully, resolve them and then get them behind us."

In the days before the visit, China moved to improve the atmosphere for talks with the release and expulsions of US-linked Chinese scholars whose arrest and conviction on spying charges had clouded bilateral relations.