BEIJING -- President Jiang Zemin, in a meeting with former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon, said ideological differences should not hinder closer Sino-U.S. relations, official media said Sunday.
In an hour-long meeting with Nixon Saturday, Jiang warned that China would not tolerate attempts to change its political system and said it was normal that different countries have different political and economic systems, the Communist Party newspaper People's Daily reported.
'China and the United States should overcome differences in ideology and other aspects and look clearly at the wide-ranging and important common interests that exist between them,' Jiang said.
'It is not possible for there to be just one political and economic system. It will not do to impose one's system on others,' he said.
Jiang's comments to Nixon were an apparent rebuff to calls within the United States for strong action against China, including placing conditions on China's Most Favored Nation trading status, over human rights and trade disagreements.
Nixon, who as president forged the U.S. diplomatic opening to communist China in 1972, arrived Thursday night in Beijing for a weeklong private visit, his seventh visit to China.
In a separate meeting Saturday with Qiao Shi, chairman of China's National People's Congress or parliament, Nixon said more U.S. congressmen should visit China to enhance 'mutual understanding of the two countries,' the official Xinhua news agency reported.
'While the United States and China have different political points of view they pose no threat to each other,' Nixon said.
Qiao said both sides should work toward stronger Sino-U.S. relations and welcomed contacts with U.S. legislators.
'We are willing to strengthen our contacts and exchanges with the U. S. Congress and welcome U.S. Congressmen to visit China,' he said.
Nixon, who served as president from January 1969 until the 1974 Watergate scandal, is remembered fondly in China as the architect of the opening of relations with the United States.
Secret diplomacy led to Nixon's famed China visit in February 1972, during which he opened the way to relations for the first time since the Communists took power in 1949.