MARGARET WARNER: Thirty years to the day after Richard Nixon opened the door to Communist China with his visit there, President Bush landed in Beijing today on the final leg of his Asian trip. As First Lady Laura Bush toured the Forbidden City, the one-time home of China's emperors, Chinese President Jiang Zemin joined Mr. Bush for an official welcoming ceremony in Beijing's Great Hall of the People. After meeting for an hour and a half, the two men held a press conference with reporters. President Bush thanked his Chinese hosts for their help in America's antiterrorism campaign.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: We recognize that terrorism is a threat to both our countries, and I welcome China's cooperation in our war against terror.
MARGARET WARNER: Soon after the September 11th attacks, Beijing closed its border with Afghanistan. U.S. officials say it also urged Pakistan to cooperate with the U.S., helped draft the U.N. resolution supporting the American campaign, and provided intelligence help to the U.S. -- something unheard of since the Cold War. That marked a positive turn from the first months of the Bush Administration.
Last spring, the White House approved one of the largest arms packages ever sold to Taiwan, over China's protests. Beijing considers the self- governing island part of China. And there was more diplomatic friction in April, when China held an American spy plane and its crew for a week and a half after it was damaged in a collision with a Chinese fighter plane.
SPOKESPERSON: And open the gate for exchanges...
MARGARET WARNER: At today's press conference, President Jiang said relations should be better ahead.
PRESIDENT JIANG ZEMIN, China (Translated): At present, despite profound changes in the international situation, China and the United States have more, rather than less, shared interests; and more, rather than less, common responsibility for world peace. The importance of the relationship has increased, rather than decreased.
MARGARET WARNER: President Bush said he'd asked Mr. Jiang to help him start a dialogue with North Korea, one of the three countries he'd named as part of an "axis of evil." President Jiang backed the idea of talks.
PRESIDENT JIANG ZEMIN (Translated): We also sincerely hope that the contacts between the United States and Democratic People's Republic of Korea will be resumed.
MARGARET WARNER: But Mr. Bush did not get any kind of agreement on one of his top priorities-- a pledge form China to stop selling arms to countries like Pakistan, Iran and North Korea.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: My government hopes that China will strongly oppose the proliferation of missiles and other deadly technologies.
MARGARET WARNER: The President briefly raised the issue of human rights.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: China's future is for the Chinese people to decide. Yet no nation is exempt from the demands of human dignity. All the world's people, including the people of China, should be free to choose how they live, how they worship, and how they work.
MARGARET WARNER: President Jiang was asked twice about why Beijing had recently imprisoned more than 50 Roman Catholic bishops.
PRESIDENT JIANG ZEMIN (Translated): Whatever religion people believe in, they have to abide by the law. So some of the lawbreakers have been detained because of their violation of law, not because of their religious belief.
MARGARET WARNER: The Chinese leader said he would visit the United States next October.