- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 11, 2002

The White House told a visiting Chinese general yesterday that comments he made in 1995 suggesting China would use nuclear weapons against Los Angeles were unacceptable.

The discussion came during a meeting between Chinese Lt. Gen. Xiong Guankai, deputy chief of staff for intelligence, and White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

The meeting was part of the appeal by the Bush administration to warn China against making further nuclear threats and to make clear to Gen. Xiong that China should not miscalculate in thinking it could win an arms race with Taiwan, or that it could coerce the island into reunification.

An additional message for the general was that Chinese help in getting North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program is important to U.S.-Chinese relations.

Gen. Xiong is in Washington with a delegation of Chinese officials who met Monday at the Pentagon with defense officials as part of a strategic dialogue that had been put on hold after last year's aerial collision between a Chinese jet and U.S. EP-3E spy plane.

Miss Rice "chose to meet with Gen. Xiong to underscore our view of international security and particularly the issue of Taiwan," a senior administration official said of the meeting.

Other administration officials said plans for the meeting sparked a dispute among officials on the National Security Council staff who opposed the meeting because it would be viewed as rewarding a foreign general who threatened to attack the United States.

Gen. Xiong told former defense official Charles Freeman in 1995 that the United States would not come to Taiwan's defense in any conflict with China because it "cared more about Los Angeles than Taipei," the Taiwanese capital.

The remark was reported to the White House at the time as a veiled threat to use nuclear weapons against the United States.

Miss Rice and two aides met with Gen. Xiong and three other Chinese military officials in her office at the White House West Wing.

"She stressed that the United States does not support Taiwan independence but that we have the means and will to meet our commitments to Taipei," the senior official said.

Miss Rice also told Gen. Xiong that the administration is committed to its obligations under the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, which calls for the United States to meet Taiwan's defensive needs.

The Bush administration announced last year it was selling guided missile destroyers and submarines to Taiwan to bolster its forces against China's military buildup, especially of short-range missiles.

Miss Rice also said that "any differences must be resolved peacefully and without resort to force or coercion," the official said.

She said "there is no justification for the continued buildup of Chinese missiles along the Taiwan Strait," the official said, noting that "it is the Chinese buildup of missiles and other forces that increases tensions in the region."

"And we believe that enhancing peace and stability in the region should be begun with the end, and then the reversal of this buildup," the official said.

Chinese President Jiang Zemin suggested to President Bush in Crawford, Texas, in October that China would be willing to reduce the missile deployments opposite Taiwan if the United States curbed arms sales to Taiwan.

U.S. officials said the offer was an informal suggestion rather than a serious proposal.

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