- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 10, 2002

Chinese President Jiang Zemin has proved that before summits, anything is possible. With the countdown running to Mr. Jiang's trip to Crawford, Texas, in late October, Beijing has undertaken its most credible nonproliferation effort yet. But China's commitment will be proved only through post-summit enforcement.

It's easy to understand why Mr. Jiang would want to secure American goodwill before his trip. After all, Russian President Vladimir Putin sealed his friendship with Mr. Bush at Crawford, amid much steak-sampling and soul-baring. Mr. Jiang could perhaps make important steps forward for the U.S.-Sino relationship in the bucolic setting.

Both Mr. Bush and Mr. Jiang have strong motivations to smooth ties. In the wake of September 11, China's cooperation with U.S. non-proliferation priorities has become more critical. And China's general support of U.S. anti-terror efforts is also important, since it borders predominantly Muslim Central Asia. China, meanwhile, has pressing social and economic domestic concerns to address, and doesn't want to add to its list of problems by alienating the United States. Also, Mr. Jiang is getting ready to step down from political leadership and, for legacy's sake, would like to leave with solid American relations.

This probably explains why Beijing recently published new regulations on missile-related exports, along with a complete list of all the products, both intellectual and hardware, that would fall under a dual-use category. Beijing's glasnost on the issue is impressive and the list appears to be comprehensive. Manufacturers would be allowed to export a product only if it has been given a license by the state to do so. And the receiver of Chinese technology must guarantee it will not use these exports for any purposes not clearly declared or re-export them to a third party.

Chinese officials may also be more aware, in the wake of the September 11 attacks, that their military exports could, potentially, be used against its own citizens. China has had its own problems with Uighur Muslims from the northwest region of Xinjiang, who are trying to become independent of China. Last Monday in Beijing, Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said Washington put the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, from the Xinjiang region, on its list of terrorist organizations. This was a move "China noted with satisfaction," said Mr. Armitage.

All the same, there are a number of ways to circumvent these regulations, with or without Beijing's complicity. For starters, government officials could approve licenses of dual-use items to questionable recipients. Also, products could be renamed or smuggled out in any number of ways, via military-chartered planes or by bribing officials at ports.

Still, Beijing appears to be trying to honor U.S. concerns regarding nonproliferation. The regulations and the transparency set an important precedent. Perhaps there will be endearments exchanged at Crawford to rival the Bush-Putin friendship.

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