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Japan Keeping Ban on High-Level Contacts With China

December 11, 1989

TOKYO (AP) _ Japan will continue avoiding high-level contacts with China in the wake of the June killing of pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing, the government’s top spokeswoman said Monday.

Japan will watch developments in China cautiously while maintaining its freeze on massive loans to the Communist government, Chief Cabinet Secretary Mayumi Moriyama said after talks between Japanese leaders and U.S. National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft.

Scowcroft and Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger arrived in Japan on Sunday after a surprise visit to Beijing for the first Sino-U.S. talks between senior officials since Washington barred such contacts after the military crackdown on student-led protests in Beijing June 3-4.

The major Western democracies agreed at their annual summit in France in July to stop all high-level contacts with China and suspend new credit to protest the crackdown, in which hundreds and possibly thousands of people were killed.

Scowcroft’s visit has drawn criticism in the United States, where Chinese dissidents and some members of Congress deplored President Bush’s decision to resume high-level contacts without improvements in human rights in China.

″The White House explained to us that this was an exception, and we accept it as such,″ Mrs. Moriyama said. ″I don’t think the basic U.S. position has changed.″

Japan was informed in advance of Scowcroft’s visit to China, Mrs. Moriyama said. The Bush administration did not announce the trip until Scowcroft and Eagleburger arrived in Beijing, where they briefed Chinese leaders on the U.S.-Soviet summit and discussed bilateral relations.

The two met Sunday night with Japanese Prime Minister Toshiki Kaifu and stressed the importance of U.S.-Japan cooperation in relations with China.

Kaifu said he hoped China would not be isolated from the rest of the world, but Mrs. Moriyama said Monday that Japan will maintain its freeze on $5.66 billion in loans imposed following the crackdown. Japanese officials have said there is no timetable for resuming discussions on the loans, originally to have been provided between 1990 and 1995.

Japan also has no plans to send a special envoy of its own to the Chinese capital, Mrs. Moriyama said.

Japanese business in China has become sluggish, with tourism and investment plummeting. Work on at least one major construction project in Beijing funded by Japan has been abandoned.

The chill in Sino-Japanese relations ″is not desirable from the viewpoint of peace and stability in Asia and both countries should exert efforts toward their improvement,″ Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Nakayama told Scowcroft and Eagleburger Monday.

Nakayama was quoted by Japan’s Kyodo News Service as praising the decision to send the two U.S. envoys to Beijing.

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