- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 27, 2002

BEIJING China is sending a negotiator to Washington next month for arms-control talks, but it expects the United States to drop its complaints that Beijing has exported weapons technology, a Chinese official said yesterday.

The comments, coming days after President Bush visited Beijing, suggested Washington faces more protracted negotiating in its effort to win a formal Chinese commitment to curb the spread of weapons technology.

China promised in November 2000 to tighten export controls, but Washington accused it of supplying missile and nuclear arms technology to Pakistan and imposed sanctions. Beijing wants an end to penalties that include a ban on launches of U.S. commercial satellites on Chinese rockets.

The trip to Washington next month by China's chief arms-control negotiator, Liu Jieyi, comes after two visits by senior officials to argue China's case, said the official, who works in China's Foreign Ministry. He said Beijing wants a response before taking any more steps.

"The ball is in their court," said the official, who spoke to a group of foreign reporters on the condition that he not be identified further.

He wouldn't specify what steps China wants the United States to take to move the talks ahead. But he pointed to one area of conflict: China's contention that it can supply arms technology under deals signed before the November 2000 agreement. U.S. officials reject that.

"The agreement is for the future, not the past," the Foreign Ministry official said. "But we did nothing wrong in the past, so you should not be worried about that."

He said China is committed to curbing the spread of weapons technology, though he acknowledged that it hasn't published a long-promised list of banned exports.

The official also said the two sides should "respect each other's concerns." He said that includes Chinese opposition to U.S. weapons sales to Taiwan, the self-governing island that Beijing claims as its territory.

"You can't just accuse us of … violating our commitments and at the same time you are selling large amounts of arms to Taiwan," he said. Such sales, he said, are "also a kind of proliferation."

On other issues in Chinese-U.S. relations, the official said:

•Chinese Vice President Hu Jintao's first visit to the United States, announced last week, will take place in late April. Mr. Hu's itinerary is under discussion, though he is expected to visit other cities in addition to Washington. Mr. Hu is widely seen as the expected successor to President Jiang Zemin.

cChina has agreed to allow the FBI to station an agent in Beijing. Washington made that request more than a year ago, but it took on new urgency when the two sides agreed to cooperate in anti-terrorism after the September 11 attacks. China is deciding whether to station a law-enforcement official in Washington.

Despite disagreement over the arms talks, the official said China regards relations with Washington as improving.

Over the next several months, meetings are planned to discuss cooperation in a wide range of fields, including anti-terrorism, global warming and fighting money laundering, he said.

Nevertheless, on the sensitive issue of relations with Taiwan, the official complained that the Bush administration was obstructing "unification of the motherland" by selling weapons and expanding contacts with Taiwanese officials.

Taiwan's defense minister has been invited to a conference next month in Florida, and the Chinese official said Beijing wants Washington to bar him from attending.

U.S. officials haven't said whether Defense Minister Tang Yiau-ming will be allowed to attend the privately organized conference. It would be the first time a Taiwanese defense minister has visited the United States since 1979, when Washington switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing.

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