U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney has begun a three-day visit to China, reassuring officials the Bush administration does not support independence for Taiwan.
Mr. Cheney arrived in Beijing Tuesday and attended a dinner in his honor at the Great Hall of the People. At closed-door talks with his Chinese counterpart, Zeng Qinghong, the U.S. vice president said Washington opposes any attempt to change the status quo across the Taiwan Strait.
Ahead of his arrival, China said it would tell him the United States must correct its practice of selling weapons to Taiwan. Those sales have irritated the government in Beijing for the past 25 years, since Congress passed a law requiring that Washington help the Taiwanese defend themselves.
At the Tuesday evening banquet, Vice President Zeng said his country places great importance on the Cheney visit. Mr. Cheney said Washington believes the two countries can do good work together.
In talks Wednesday, Mr. Cheney is expected to urge that China revalue its currency to help stem a loss of American jobs and a record U.S trade deficit with Beijing.
Mr. Cheney arrived in China from Japan, where he pledged the United States will do all it can to win the release of three Japanese civilians kidnapped in Iraq. He said Washington will stand by Tokyo to overcome what he called the "trials of today."
The vice president will go to South Korea on the final leg of his week-long Asian tour.
Hours before Mr. Cheney arrived in Beijing, China announced that seven of its nationals who were abducted in Iraq have been released. Officials said the seven men were in good spirits Tuesday following their release.
Gunmen captured the men Sunday in the city of Fallujah, west of Baghdad, where officials said the Chinese were traveling on business.
Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.