- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 1, 2000

Two senior congressional leaders said yesterday that China's threats against Taiwan are undermining support for passage of legislation that would boost trade between Washington and Beijing.
"It's going to be tougher and tougher to get the votes [in the House] if China doesn't quit threatening Taiwan," said House Majority Leader Dick Armey, Texas Republican.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott also said Chinese threats have placed passage of China trade legislation in doubt.
"The great danger with regard to China being admitted to [the World Trade Organization] and permanent trade status is China's conduct," Mr. Lott said.
"They cannot be threatening their neighbors and participating in nuclear proliferation, and violating human rights, and participating in religious persecution and expect the representatives of the American people to say, 'Oh, well, yes, that's all bad, but …' "
"I would urge China to re-evaluate their threatening demeanor" toward Taiwan and others in the region, said Mr. Lott, Mississippi Republican.
President Clinton dismissed a recent Chinese government report that threatened force against Taiwan as election politics. But he called on the two nations to settle their differences peacefully.
China last week issued a government "white paper" threatening force against Taiwan if reunification talks don't happen sooner.
Then on Monday, China's official military newspaper, the Liberation Army Daily, issued a threat to use missile strikes against the United States if Washington intervenes to defend Taiwan in a conflict.
Mr. Clinton said the white paper contains "some fairly inflammatory language" that caused him to reiterate that the United States follows a "one China" policy.
"And we are adamantly opposed to any sort of force," he said.
The president said the Chinese remarks may be part of "the political season over there."
"They're having a presidential election in Taiwan, and I have noticed, not only in this election in America but in previous ones, sometimes things are said in political season that might not be said at other times," he said.
Mr. Clinton said he does not believe China's war of words will defeat the trade-status change.
Congress must approve legislation granting China permanent, normal trade relations which currently is granted annually as part of a trade agreement approved last year that will let China join the World Trade Organization.
The normal trade status would lower tariffs on Chinese goods sold in the United States.
Mr. Clinton could send legislation to Capitol Hill as early as next week on the trade-status issue. Mr. Armey said he hopes Congress will approve the trade legislation soon.
On China's threat to use nuclear missiles, the military newspaper, the official organ of the People's Liberation Army, said the United States would suffer "serious damage" for intervening in any conflict between China and Taiwan.
It said that China could resort to "long-range" strategic counterattacks a reference to Beijing's arsenal of 24 CSS-4 intercontinental ballistic missiles.
"It is not a wise move to be at war with a country such as China, a point which the U.S. policy-makers know fairly well also," the newspaper said. The paper also said China is not Iraq or Yugoslavia, two recent targets of U.S. military operations.
Asked about the PLA statements, reported in yesterday's editions of The Washington Times, Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon told reporters that the article did not change Chinese nuclear warfighting doctrines.
"The Chinese have said, certainly since the days of Deng Xiaoping, that they do not have a policy of first-strike attacks," Mr. Bacon said. "They will only strike in response to attacks. And there is nothing new in that article that changes that."
The Liberation Army Daily stated in the Monday commentary that China "has certain abilities of launching strategic counterattack and the capacity of launching a long-distance strike."
On the Pacific exercises by the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk and two cruise-missile destroyers off Japan, Mr. Bacon said the ships are on a standard deployment.
"She is southeast of Japan, not close to Taiwan," Mr. Bacon said. "And this is a short-term, long-planned exercise that has nothing to do with the situation between China and Taiwan."
The Senate also is set to debate a bill that passed the House last month calling for closer military cooperation with Taiwan.
Mr. Lott said the Senate has not set its debate on the measure and will discuss the legislation with White House National Security Adviser Samuel R. Berger soon.
Meanwhile, a representative of the ruling Kuomintang in Taiwan said yesterday that the threatening white paper has had little impact on the presidential campaign.
"China's white paper had no significant impact in the last week," Wu Hoi, a spokesman for the Taiwanese party, told reporters.
Chinese Vice Prime Minister Qian Qichen said yesterday the threat to attack Taiwan over delays in reunification talks was not new, state television reported in Beijing.
Mr. Qian said the first warning was issued in 1984 by Mr. Deng, China's leader.
"Since the publication of the white paper, some foreign media have regarded China as making a major change to its policy on solving the Taiwan issue," Mr. Qian said. "This view is incorrect. This has been our consistent policy, it is not a new formulation."
U.S. officials have said the warning contained in the white paper represented a new policy toward Taiwan. In the past, China has threatened to use force against Taiwan if it declares independence.
The white paper stated that force is an option if Taiwan resists talks on reunification.
According to Mr. Qian, Mr. Deng stated in October 1984 that "non-peaceful means" would never be abandoned in reunifying Taiwan.
"What do we do if the Taiwan authorities indefinitely avoid talks with us? You don't think we'd abandon the reunification of the country, do you?" he quoted Mr. Deng as saying.
China delivered a new threat yesterday in Beijing to Adm. Dennis Blair, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific.
Chinese Defense Minister Chi Haotian told Adm. Blair that China sought peaceful reunification with Taiwan but that "China will never commit not to use force."
Adm. Blair completed two days of meetings with Chinese leaders weeks before Taiwan's second presidential elections March 18.
He told Chinese military leaders that the United States would view any use of force against Taiwan with "grave concern." A U.S. official said the four-star admiral appealed for "patience and moderation" on the part of Beijing

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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