BEIJING — Only days before a U.N. Security Council vote on the use of force in the Persian Gulf, the United States has effectively ended a moratorium on high-level exchanges with China.
Chinese officials today announced that the United States had invited a Chinese vice minister of trade to visit next month. He will be the highest-ranking Chinese to make an official visit to the United States since the June, 1989, crushing of China's democracy movement.
Word of the planned visit came as the U.S. Embassy in Beijing announced that Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen will travel to New York to cast China's vote on a Security Council resolution allowing the use of force against Iraq.
China's international standing has improved greatly since the Persian Gulf crisis began because of Beijing's support for resolutions against Iraq. This has spurred the Bush Administration's efforts to resume normal relations with China.
The United States had joined other Western countries and Japan in imposing sanctions to punish China for its June, 1989, army attack on student-led protesters for democratic reform. Among other things, the sanctions halted high-level exchanges.
The forthcoming visit was announced today by the Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations and Trade. It said its vice minister, Gu Yongjiang, will visit the United States from Dec. 10 to 14 at the invitation of Commerce Department Undersecretary J. Michael Farren.
Although there was no formal U.S. announcement, by inviting Gu the Bush Administration effectively ends its own moratorium. Gu's trip falls in the category of those banned since June, 1989.