The Bush administration is welcoming China's publication of new rules governing the export of missile technology by Chinese firms. But it says it wants to see tangible action on export curbs before lifting a U.S. ban on the launch of American commercial satellites on Chinese rockets.
The Chinese move came as Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage began a round of political talks in Beijing and in advance of an October U.S. visit by Chinese President Ziang Zemin, who will meet President Bush at his Texas ranch.
At a briefing here, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said the publication of the export rules is "potentially an important step," but he made clear the United States wants to see the rules enforced:
"It all involves the Chinese putting in place an effective system of controls over missile exports," he said, "and making that system take effect in a way that reduces proliferating activities by Chinese companies. So certainly it's a welcome step, it's a positive step and one of the things one of the things that we've been looking for and will follow up in our discussions with the Chinese."
The Bush administration has imposed financial sanctions against several Chinese companies in recent months for selling Iran missile technology, and equipment that could be used for chemical and biological weapons.
Spokesman Boucher said U.S. and Chinese experts will meet to discuss how the new rules will affect the sanctions, as well as the congressionally-imposed ban on Chinese launches of U.S. commercial satellites, in effect since 1998.
The Clinton administration agreed to lift the satellite launch-ban as part of a non-proliferation deal reached with China in November of 2000.
But the U.S. penalty, blocking what could be a billion-dollar business for the Chinese aerospace industry, was kept in place after evidence surfaced that China had violated terms of the accord and continued selling sensitive technology.