- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 8, 2001

SHANGHAI (Agence France-Presse) — A U.S. delegation led by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph R. Biden Jr. began a four-day visit to China yesterday by warning Beijing to abide by an agreement on missile proliferation.
The visit by Mr. Biden, Delaware Democrat, and other members of the committee follows a report in The Washington Times that China sold missile components to Pakistan — a sale that would violate a November accord under which China committed not to export ballistic missile components that are restricted by a global anti-missile pact.
"We want to know that China is willing to abide by whatever agreements that they make, not only to the letter of the law but in the spirit of the agreement," Mr. Biden told reporters in the eastern Chinese city of Shanghai.
Mr. Biden is heading the four-member delegation on a four-day visit to China that will include meetings with President Jiang Zemin and Prime Minister Zhu Rongji.
While there are deep divisions on the Senate committee about the level of economic and political engagement the United States should have with China, there is consensus about the dangers of China's sales of nuclear technology, he said.
Exports of missiles and components by Chinese state firms to potential U.S. adversaries or unsettled regions of the world is one of the most contentious issues in the fractious U.S.-China relationship.
"There is little disagreement among us as to whether an agreement was made to refrain from such activity that appears to have been broken," Mr. Biden said.
Broken promises on weapons sales cast doubt on China's commitment to follow through with bilateral trade agreements once the country accedes to the World Trade Organization, he said.
China's Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, denied yesterday that it had sold forbidden missile components to Pakistan, saying the report in The Times in Monday's editions was "not worth commenting on."
"This American newspaper always disseminates irresponsible and groundless rumor aimed at slandering China as a proliferator," the ministry said in a statement.
Mr. Biden said the United States could continue to work on the issue of proliferation. "I don't start from the premise that we have a hostile relationship. We have a difficult relationship," he said.
Mr. Biden said senators would urge Mr. Jiang to pressure North Korean leader Kim Jong-il to abandon his nuclear ambitions and to work with United States to prevent an arms race on the Korean peninsula or between India and Pakistan.
"Jiang Zemin must understand that it is not in China's interest, in our interest or in North Korea's interest to have a long-range nuclear capability," he said.
Mr. Biden said that if North Korea were to acquire such a capability it would likely upset the balance of power in the region, prompting Japan to question its current military status and making it easier for President Bush to get domestic approval for a missile shield.
The four-member delegation, which also includes Sens. Paul S. Sarbanes, Maryland Democrat; Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania Republican; and Fred Thompson, Tennessee Republican, began its China visit by meeting with students at Shanghai's prestigious Fudan University.
The senators will fly to the coastal resort of Beidaihe to meet with Mr. Jiang, Mr. Zhu and Defense Minister Chi Haotian today and will discuss weapons sales, human rights, regional security and trade, Mr. Biden said.

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