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US-China Missile Talks to Open - 2001-08-22


China and the United States are set to hold talks Thursday on American allegations that Beijing broke a promise not to share missile technology with other nations.

U.S. officials say they will urge China to respect its November 2000 agreement not to export missile technology.

Beijing says the talks will also cover U.S. commitments to waive sanctions on Chinese firms suspected of trading arms.

The U.S. delegation is headed by Acting Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Non-Proliferation, Vann Van Diepin. The name of the leader of the Chinese side has not yet been made public.

The discussions follow recent allegations in The Washington Times newspaper that a Chinese company sent a dozen shipments of missile components to neighboring Pakistan, in apparent violation of the agreement. The Times cited unnamed intelligence sources for its story.

China's government and the government-owned China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation both deny the allegations.

Washington's concerns that China may be continuing to share banned weapons technology were raised a couple of weeks ago by the chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joseph Biden, in a meeting with Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

"We disagreed on whether or not China has kept its commitment not to transfer any, any material that would in any way aid a country in their pursuit of ballistic missile capability," said Sen. Biden. "And [President Jiang] was very formal in saying that China has kept the letter of all its agreements. And we agreed to disagree on that point."

Chinese official media say U.S. arms sales to Taiwan will also be on the agenda for Thursday's talks. China, which considers Taiwan a renegade province, objects to the U.S. arms sales as a violation of its sovereignty.

The government-owned China Daily calls arguments over the spread of weapons technology one of the "most intractable" problems in the often-difficult relationship between Beijing and Washington.

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