- The Washington Times - Monday, January 24, 2000

Meetings between Pentagon officials and a senior Chinese general this week will be the first test of a new law restricting U.S. exchanges with the People's Liberation Army.
A provision of the fiscal 2000 defense authorization signed by President Clinton in October is aimed at preventing Chinese military intelligence from gathering defense technology through the Pentagon's military-to-military program with China.
People's Liberation Army (PLA) Lt. Gen. Xiong Guankai, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, arrives here today to begin three days of meetings in the first military exchanges since Beijing broke off military exchanges after NATO's bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade last May.
Gen. Xiong is scheduled to meet Defense Secretary William S. Cohen and other senior Pentagon officials, according to defense officials.
A senior Clinton administration official said the talks are not expected to produce dramatic progress in military relations, which in the past have included visits to both countries by officials, ships and aircraft.
Gen. Xiong is expected to criticize U.S. plans to sell advanced weaponry to Taiwan and also will oppose U.S. missile defense efforts. Defense officials say he also will ask for the names and punishment of the CIA officials blamed for giving NATO war planners the incorrect bombing coordinates for the Chinese Embassy.
The general and other visiting PLA military officials also will be honored at private banquets sponsored by the Nixon Center, a think tank, the Pentagon and the Chinese Embassy through Wednesday.Some Pentagon officials hope the talks will open up the Chinese military to a visit to China later this year by Mr. Cohen. The defense secretary had planned to visit China last year, but the embassy bombing forced the trip to be canceled.
"This is part of an effort, obviously, to rebuild our relationship after the mistaken attack," Pentagon spokesman Kenneth Bacon told reporters. "It is an effort to rebuild contacts and discussions between the U.S. and the Chinese militaries."
The guidelines limiting military exchanges with China were produced by Sen. Robert C. Smith, New Hampshire Republican, following reports last year that China obtained strategic technology covertly from the United States.
The so-called Smith Guidelines state that Mr. Cohen may not authorize any military exchanges involving force projection operations, nuclear operations, advanced combined arms and joint combat operations, logistics activities, chemical and biological defenses, surveillance and reconnaissance operations.
It also restricts the Pentagon from discussing any activities related to joint war-fighting experiments, military space issues, advanced military capabilities, arms sales and weapons technology. The guidelines also restrict any access by Chinese officials to Pentagon laboratories.
The Pentagon views the military exchanges with China as part of the administration's diplomacy toward Beijing and has said they do not involve technology transfers.
The Chinese regard the exchanges as a way to obtain militarily useful technology. Past exchanges have included Chinese military delegation visits to sensitive facilities, conferences on military logistics and demonstrations of military air traffic control.
A report by the National Counterintelligence Center, an interagency security group located at CIA headquarters, warned in a report that China is continuing efforts to gather technology overseas.
China's official Xinhua news agency in August stated that the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee and State Council announced plans to intensify "foreign cooperation" in technology innovation, primarily with the help of ethnic Chinese living or working abroad, the report states.
Mr. Cohen's last visit to China took place in January 1998 when he was permitted to visit an aging air defense site. Some Pentagon officials complained that the Chinese refused to allow the defense secretary to visit more advanced military facilities.
Leading the so-called "defense consultative talks" will be Undersecretary of Defense Walter Slocombe.
"Discussions will cover a wide range of areas. We will compare our strategic assessments of the 21st century," Mr. Bacon said. "We will talk about the geopolitical conditions in the Asia-Pacific, about military modernization programs in the two countries, what sort of military relationship we should have during the year 2000."
The Pentagon is considering the sale of four Aegis destroyers to Taiwan that could be used for missile defenses.
The ships and at least six other weapons systems are on Taiwan's request list made last year.
China is opposing the destroyer sale because of its opposition to missile defenses. Aegis ships will be the heart of the Navy's theater-wide sea-based missile defense and could be used by Taiwan against China's growing force of short-range missiles, many of which are targeted against the island.

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