HONG KONG -- The summit meeting at Crawford between Chinese President Jiang Zemin and U.S. President George W. Bush should usher in a period of relative stability in Chinese-American relations. While unexpected developments -- such as the air collision last year off the Chinese coast -- cannot be ruled out, it is likely that they will be handled in such a way as to avert a new crisis.

China was eager to ensure that everything went well, since it was Jiang's last official visit to the United States before he steps down to make way for younger leaders. Among the steps taken to ensure the meeting's success were the promulgation of regulations regarding the control of dual-use biological agents and chemicals, the extension of temporary biotech import rules to allow the continued importation of gene-modified soybeans from the United States and the release of Ngawang Sangdrol, the longest serving female political prisoner in Tibet.

In a background briefing for the press days before the meeting, American officials said issues that the U.S. would bring up are the "traditional" ones of "nonproliferation (of weapons of mass destruction), human rights, trade," while the Chinese side would bring up Taiwan. In addition, of course, Iraq and North Korea were also on the agenda.