- The Washington Times - Friday, April 6, 2001

China has repeatedly violated international agreements that it signed in recent years by transferring nuclear and missile technology, allowing pirated U.S. movies and computer software to be sold openly and violating human rights conventions, analysts and officials say.

But they point out that many nations, including the United States, also refuse to abide by treaties and international agreements when they run counter to their sense of national interest.

Concern over China's unwillingness to abide by international agreements now focuses on its detention of 24 U.S. military men and women after their surveillance plane landed on Hainan Island following a collision with a Chinese jet over international waters.

China interprets international maritime and navigation accords as giving it the right to accuse the United States of responsibility for the crash and to demand an apology before releasing the crew.

The United States has said China has no right to detain the crew nor to enter the surveillance plane.

China has incensed Westerners by squelching free press and freedom of religion despite signing the U.N. Convention on Human Rights and by violating other agreements.

China in the mid-1990s transferred ring magnets and other technological equipment and know-how to Pakistan, enabling the South Asian nation to build atomic bombs.

China says it wishes to join the World Trade Organization, which requires member nations to respect copyrights, but high-quality bootleg versions of the latest American movies, computer software and rock music abound there for a tiny fraction of the cost in U.S. shops.

Mark Lagon, an aide to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he does not trust China to abide by treaties.

"Even outside the security area in trade, property rights and the Convention on Human Rights which they signed there's a lot of examples where China did not live up to its treaties," Mr. Lagon told a Georgetown University symposium yesterday.

China has repeatedly signed agreements with the United States to refrain from selling missile technology and parts but then has provided Pakistan with the ability to launch missiles, according to intelligence reports first disclosed in The Washington Times.

Despite its refusal to abide by agreements, China is acting "more and more in accord with international rules," said Douglas Paal, Asia director of the White House National Security Council under President George Bush.

Mr. Paal, speaking at the Georgetown symposium, said China often uses legalistic interpretations of treaties as well as unilateral clauses it attaches to documents in order to avoid restrictions.

China attached a clause to the Law of the Sea Treaty that lets the country bar passage through the 200-mile exclusive economic zone offshore to vessels and planes where "it was not innocent passage," Mr. Paal said. "No one has that."

Such a clause could give China justification for declaring the U.S. reconnaissance plane was engaging in illegal activity by collecting information inside the 200-mile zone. If all nations applied the clause, it would reduce the freedom of navigation enormously.

Mr. Paal, now head of the Asia Pacific Policy Center, said "we all do the same thing all countries approach treaties with the same grounds."

• Carter Dougherty contributed to this article.


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