While a delegation of U.S. senators aired contentious issues with Chinese officials today, the United States signaled continuing progress in relations with the announcement of several accords, including one that will bring the Army Corps of Engineers here to assist in harbor projects.
Among the issues the senators raised was the U.S. commitment to Taiwan. At a press conference here today, the senators also described the overall relationship with China as friendly.
"We believe that slow progress, not dramatic progress, will continue to be made," said Sen. James A. McClure (R-Idaho).
Sen. William S. Cohen (R-Maine) raised the Taiwan issue on behalf of the group, arguing that the United States had a commitment to defend Taiwan, its security, way of life and "freedom of choice." Cohen said that China's talk of using force against Taiwan would be "counterproductive" and lead to more American support for Taiwan.
But after two days of talks, which included more than an hour today with Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, the senators found that they shared "similar views" with the Chinese on most issues, Senate Majority Leader Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.), the delegation's leader, said.
Earlier in the day, U.S. Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole announced that the two nations had signed the following agreements:
*to renew negotiations on a maritime agreement;
*to develop air cargo operations between the countries;
*and an amendment to existing accords that will allow the Army Corps of Engineers to undertake projects to help expand China's heavily congested ports.
Secretary Dole, who traveled here with her husband, the senator, said the two sides also exchanged the initial draft of an agreement on cooperation in developing China's railroad system.
In their meetings here, the senators broached U.S. disagreement with Peking over China's failure to fulfill a 1980 grain purchase agreement, their concern over rapidly rising costs for American business executives operating here, and their view that clearer business investment rules were needed.
The senators expressed the hope that China would sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty but received no encouragement that it would.
McClure, chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, said that "there are those in the Congress who still see some problems" in fulfilling the peaceful nuclear cooperation agreement recently signed in Washington between the United States and China. McClure said he thought that the agreement would take effect but that it would help if the Chinese provided more definite assurances that nuclear technology would not be spread from China.
The Chinese categorically denied that they had anything other than normal scientific exchanges with Pakistan, which some observers suspect has received nuclear assistance from China.
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.) said the senators had objected to China's voting pattern in the United Nations. He said that China had voted with the United States only 14 percent of the time and with the Soviet Union 86 percent.
The other senators here were Sen. Pete V. Domenici (R-N.M.), Sen. Pete Wilson (R-Calif.) and Sen. Daniel J. Evans (R-Wash.).