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US Wants to Convince China Proposed Missile Shield is Not a Threat - 2001-09-02


The White House says China will get an update on U.S. plans for a missile defense system before President Bush visits Beijing and Shanghai next month. It is part of an intensifying effort by the Bush administration to ease opposition to a missile shield.

White House officials say they want to convince China and other nations that the proposed shield is not a threat.

Beijing is a staunch opponent of the missile defense plan, as is Russia. White House Spokesman Sean McCormack says they must understand the United States is developing a missile shield to defend against attacks from terrorists or so-called rogue nations.

The idea of a briefing for China on testing plans first became public in a story in Sunday's edition of The Washington Post. The Post quoted White House National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice as saying the administration wants serious talks with China. But she also said there would be no deals with Beijing to win support for the missile shield.

The Post and the New York Times also quoted unnamed administration officials as saying several initiatives were under consideration to ease Chinese concerns. They said there might be discussions between the United States and China on resuming nuclear testing. And The New York Times reported the White House could act to ease Chinese opposition to a missile shield by dropping objections to China's plans to build up its fleet of nuclear missiles.

But Sean McCormack told VOA the United States remains opposed to nuclear testing, which is now precluded by a worldwide moratorium. He also said there is no connection between the missile defense proposal and China's plan to increase its small arsenal of nuclear missiles. "We have said and have continued to tell them there is no need for a build-up," he said.

The White House Spokesman said the Chinese will get a briefing on missile shield testing similar to those offered other countries, including America's European allies. He said the Chinese must understand the missile defense system is not targeted at them and they should not feel threatened.

President Bush will get a chance to discuss the issue with China's leaders next month when he travels to Beijing and Shanghai to attend the annual summit of Pacific-rim leaders. Mr. Bush will also meet on the sidelines of the summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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