- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 13, 2000

BEIJING China's defense minister announced yesterday that Beijing will not renounce the use of force to take Taiwan but privately told U.S. officials that it does not intend to attack.
Gen. Chi Haotian, the defense minister, also said the buildup of Chinese short-range missiles opposite Taiwan is "exaggerated."
"This is entirely China's own business," Gen. Chi said after a signing ceremony with Defense Secretary William S. Cohen.
"On Taiwan our policy is all too clear," Gen. Chi told reporters. "It is a policy of peaceful reunification and one country, two systems. We have also made it very clear that we do not undertake to give up the use of force."
Later, a senior U.S. official told reporters that the Chinese defense minister said during an hour-long private meeting that China has the right to use its military, but that there is "no intent to use force" against Taiwan, an island where Chinese nationalists fled after a civil war in 1949.
"That was an important point that was made during the course of the session," the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.
Senior U.S. officials said China is in the process of adding 50 new short-range missiles a year opposite the island and eventually will deploy up to 650 missiles.
A senior official said here on Tuesday the pace of missile deployments is continuing despite U.S. government efforts to discourage what it views as a destabilizing buildup.
Asked by a reporter about the buildup yesterday, Gen. Chi said: "This is an exaggeration of the facts."
Mr. Cohen said that during talks with Gen. Chi he urged him to resolve Beijing's differences without force.
"We do not support any movement toward independence on the part of Taiwan," Mr. Cohen said standing next to Gen. Chi inside a conference room at the new, palacelike Chinese Defense Ministry headquarters. "But we also support the Taiwan Relations Act and will continue to insist that the resolution of the differences that exist between China and Taiwan must be resolved peacefully… . We are committed to seeing a peaceful reconciliation or resolution of the issues."
China has repeatedly threatened Taiwan after tensions were heightened beginning a year ago when Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui announced that relations with the mainland should be held on a state-to-state basis, terms Beijing interpreted as a step toward independence.
Chinese and Taiwanese warplanes then began flying close to the demarcation line running through the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan then elected a new president, Chen Shui-bian, whose political party in the past has advocated declaring independence.
The tensions are a cause of concern to the Pentagon because the United States is committed to preventing any forcible efforts by China to retake the island.
China's military commentators have threatened to use nuclear weapons against the United States if it intervenes in a conflict with Taiwan.
Yesterday's talks here between U.S. and Chinese military and defense officials focused in a large part on Taiwan, with the Chinese urging a halt to U.S. arms sales to the island.
Mr. Cohen also raised concerns about China's continuing sale of missile technology to Pakistan and the Middle East, which Chinese leaders denied had taken place.
The only formal sign of an agreement between the two sides was the signing of military activities related to the environment. The pact calls for setting up an exchange of information on environmental protection research and development.
Earlier, Gen. Chi stated at the start of the meetings that Mr. Cohen's visit had been postponed last year for "reasons that are well known" a reference to the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Chinese officials remain convinced the bombing was intentional, despite repeated U.S. official apologies for what it said was an accidental attack based on faulty intelligence.
Mr. Cohen told reporters after the meetings that "I did mention the fact that I thought there could be a reduction in tensions by a reduction in the missile threat itself."
China so far has rejected U.S. calls to cut back on the growing missile deployments, which the Defense Intelligence Agency reported earlier as giving the Chinese military the capability of attacking all major military bases in Taiwan with little or no warning.
Mr. Cohen said he told the Chinese defense minister that the missile deployments added pressure on the United States to provide Taiwan with arms. Chinese officials also criticized U.S. plans for a national missile defense during the meetings, arguing that the system would be destabilizing.
The U.S. side stated that the national missile defense system being developed would not be aimed at China's strategic nuclear forces.
Mr. Cohen was honored with a review of Chinese troops in front of the new Chinese Defense Ministry building named after the date of the founding of the People's Liberation Army.
Adm. Dennis Blair, the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, told reporters after the meetings that the Chinese military for the first time agreed to send military officers to an Asia-Pacific center in Hawaii.

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