- The Washington Times - Friday, December 10, 1999

Liu Xiaoming, deputy chief of mission at the Chinese Embassy, Thursday justified China’s efforts to strengthen itself militarily while refusing to confirm or deny reports it is building new bases close to Taiwan and upgrading its missiles.
Mr. Liu also told reporters and editors of The Washington Times at a Chinese Embassy luncheon that any inclusion of Taiwan in a theater missile defense system (TMD) would trigger an arms race in the region rather than deter one.
Meanwhile, in Taipei, Thursday, Vice President Lien Chan called for development of long-range, ground-to-ground missiles that could reach China.
“To make a foe afraid to attack Taiwan, we definitely must develop a reliable deterrent force and strengthen our second-strike capability,” Mr. Lien told a conference on defense.
“That includes developing the potential force of a long-range, surface-to-surface missile,” said Mr. Lien, the candidate of the ruling Kuomintang, or Nationalist Party, to succeed President Lee Teng-hui in March elections.
The Washington Times reported Wednesday that a second short-range missile base is under construction in China near Taiwan that will significantly increase the threat to the island.
The Times earlier reported another base under construction at Yongan, about 220 miles from the island, on Nov. 23.
“I do not know the military specifics,” said Mr. Liu, China’s No. 2 diplomat in Washington, when asked about The Times’ reports.
“But we have to look at the big picture here,” he said, citing statements of the Taiwan president “suggesting independence” and the accidental bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, by NATO warplanes.
“These things have created powerful pressures within China for a military strengthening,” he declared.
In Beijing Thursday, the Foreign Ministry denied that China is building a second short-range missile base near Taiwan.
“This report is based entirely on fabricated rumors,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue told reporters.
Both the United States and China have struggled to repair relations that were severely strained by the NATO bombing in May, allegations of Chinese spying at American nuclear laboratories and renewed tension between Taiwan and China.
China and the United States clinched a deal last month paving the way for Beijing to join the World Trade Organization.
Mr. Liu also said he agreed with the criticism that President Clinton went too far in Seattle by endorsing greater environmental protection and higher labor standards as part of a WTO agreement.
“The WTO should stick to matters of trade,” he declared. “There are other organizations to deal to these other matters, such as the International Labor Organization.”
China views itself as a Third World country and is apprehensive that any labor standards requirements written into WTO could be used by outside challengers to weaken Chinese competitiveness.
On the environment, China’s longstanding position is that the developed countries are the ones who have damaged the environment and that they should pay a higher share of the costs than the developing world for cleaning it up.
Although the Chinese envoy lamented the strains in U.S.-Chinese relations, he saved his most severe criticism for Taiwan’s President Lee.
“It is clear that Lee wants to lay the groundwork for the declaration of an independent Republic of Taiwan,” Mr. Liu said.
“That is the only meaning of his May 9 statement that relations between China and Taiwan should be conducted as special state-to-state relations.”
The government of Taiwan denies that it has abandoned the principle of one China, with Taiwan as part of it. The principle forms the basis of the complex trilateral relationship between Washington, Beijing and Taipei.
In several statements following his new position, the Taiwan president has argued that his intention is to correct the disadvantage of Taiwan in its dealings with the mainland.
“If Mr. Lee seeks to amend the constitution to make his government the Republic of Taiwan, it would pose serious risks for the region,” Mr. Liu said.

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