Chinese official hopes U.S. won't link trade, spy plane row

Sunday, April 15th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BEIJING (AP) _ A Chinese trade official has urged the U.S. Congress not to link the recent spy plane row with a coming vote on renewing China's normal trade relations status, state media said.

Preserving stable economic ties benefits both countries, trade ministry spokesman Gao Yan was quoted as saying Saturday by the government-run China News Service.

``China doesn't wish to fight a trade war with any country,'' Gao was quoted as telling a trade fair in Guangzhou, a city in southern China.

During the standoff, several U.S. lawmakers suggested a June vote on normal trade status could be used to punish China for its delayed release of the crew.

But Gao said linking the April 1 collision with normal trade relations would greatly damage economic relations between China and the United States.

``The peoples of the two countries are unwilling to see this happen,'' he reportedly said.

On Sunday, the official Xinhua News Agency said China's exports to the United States rose a hefty 11.3 percent in the first two months of this year from the same period last year.

Chinese and U.S. diplomats meet Wednesday to discuss the cause of the collision between a U.S. Navy EP-3E spy plane and a Chinese F-8 jet fighter over the South China Sea.

China has also said it will demand an end to U.S. surveillance flights off its coast. The United States has already rejected that, saying the flights are legal because they are in international air space.

The U.S. air crew was released Thursday after 11 days detention on Hainan island, where the spy plane made an emergency landing. On Saturday, China called off a two-week search-and-rescue operation for its pilot, proclaiming him a ``revolutionary martyr.''