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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Bush Talks Terrorism in China

BEIJING -- U.S. President George W. Bush pressed China on Thursday to curb the spread of weapons technology and let its people live and worship freely on the first day of a visit designed to build on a new spirit of Chinese-U.S. cooperation.

But despite smiles and warm handshakes all around, Bush, who arrived in Beijing exactly 30 years after a bridge-building visit by former President Richard Nixon, failed to secure a hoped-for early deal on arms proliferation.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin said the two countries would step up consultations on counterterrorism but urged patience in the war on terrorism, which Bush launched after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

Bush, visiting China for the second time in four months, was on the final leg of a three-nation Asian tour that has taken him to Japan and South Korea.

"My government hopes that China will strongly oppose the proliferation of missiles and other deadly technologies," he told a joint news conference after talks with Jiang marked by a series of frank but friendly exchanges.

The United States has accused China of transferring weapons technology to North Korea and Iran, nations Bush has branded with Iraq as an "axis of evil" seeking to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

China denies the U.S. charges.

Bush said there had been no change in Washington's policy toward Taiwan, which China claims as a renegade province, and he said the people of China should be free to choose how they live and worship.

"China's future is for the Chinese people to decide, yet no nation is exempt from the demands of human dignity," he said.

"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."

Arriving from South Korea, Bush said the United States was willing to meet the government of the North's leader, Kim Jong Il, and asked China to relay the message.

Masking sharp differences on proliferation, Taiwan, human rights and missile defense, Beijing and Washington have stressed that bilateral ties are on the mend since China declared its support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

China is deeply worried about U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and the U.S. military presence in Central Asia, but is more anxious to smooth ties with its second biggest trading partner and a key source of investment in the sensitive run-up to a leadership handover this autumn.

 Jiang was the life of the party at a banquet Bush on Thursday evening, cutting a rug with three of America's leading ladies.

But a jovial Jiang saved his best act for Bush, serenading the U.S. president in Italian -- backed up by a Chinese accordionist.

Jiang and the accordionist took Bush by surprise with the Italian aria "O Sole Mio" after dinner was done.

Jiang also danced with Laura Bush, Condoleeza Rice and the wife of U.S. Ambassador Clark Randt as a People's Liberation Army band played such American favourites as "The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You" and "Moon River."