- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 18, 2005


President Bush said yesterday that the Chinese government heard the United States “loud and clear” after sanctions were imposed against eight Chinese companies for helping Iran with its missile programs.

“To the extent that other nations are proliferating into this closed country, that represents a significant problem as well,” Mr. Bush told Fox News Channel. “That’s why we’re dealing with the Chinese firms, and that’s why we’re mindful of making sure the proliferation efforts are stopped at their source.”

The New York Times first reported the sanctions, in which the State Department served notice to the Chinese firms early this month. A North Korean company also was penalized. The sanctions prohibit the companies from doing business in the United States and ban them from obtaining licenses that allow them to export or obtain a patent for American technologies.

“They’ve heard us loud and clear,” Mr. Bush said. “We will make sure to the best extent possible they do cooperate. … We’ll make it clear not only to China, but elsewhere that we’ll hold you to account — we want to have friendly relations but do not proliferate.”

Earlier, White House spokesman Scott McClellan did not explain why the Chinese firms had drawn U.S. ire, focusing instead on the administration’s concerns about Iran’s longer-range ballistic missiles and its suspected pursuit of nuclear weapons. The matter is a sensitive diplomatic issue because China is a key U.S. partner in the Bush administration’s efforts to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program.

One of the companies hit by sanctions was Norinco, China’s biggest state-owned weapons maker. In May 2003, Washington sanctioned Norinco after accusing it of aiding Iran’s long-range missile program. The company denied the accusation.

Other firms identified by the newspaper as among the eight were the China Great Wall Industry Corp. and the China National Aero-Technology Import and Export Corp.

Norinco also manufactures military-style semiautomatic assault weapons.

The State Department placed a notice in the Federal Register early this month listing the Chinese companies affected.

China isn’t a member of the U.S.-led Missile Technology Control Regime — a 34-nation coalition aimed at limiting the spread of long-range missiles — but has promised to abide by its restrictions.

“Proliferation is an issue we take very seriously, and stopping it has been a top priority for the president,” Mr. McClellan said.

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