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Did China Break Promise Not to Share Missile Technology? - 2001-08-08

The head of the U.S. Senate's Foreign Relations Committee says China may have broken promises not to share missile technology with other nations. Senator Joseph Biden says the dispute could hurt China in other important areas of the relationship between Washington and Beijing. Mr. Biden spoke to reporters ahead of Wednesday's planned meetings with China's top leadership.

Senator Biden says new allegations that China has been sending ballistic missile technology to Pakistan will be on his mind at meetings planned with China's President Jiang Zemin, Premier Zhu Rongji, and Defense Minister Chi Haotian in the northern Chinese seaside resort of Beidaihe.

But Senator Biden also said there is "nothing inevitable" about friction between the United States and China and thinks the two sides are likely to work out their differences.

The Washington Times newspaper, citing sources in U.S. intelligence, recently reported that a Chinese state-owned company made several shipments of missile technology to neighboring Pakistan. If the allegation proves true, it would appear to violate a Chinese pledge not to share the means to make missiles with other nations.

The U.S. State Department has refused to comment on the allegations, while China's government denies them.

Senator Biden took over the key foreign affairs panel in June, and has set a less confrontational tone on U.S. / Chinese relations than his predecessor.

Senator Biden is leading a four member congressional delegation on visits to Taiwan, Shanghai, Beijing and South Korea.

Tuesday in Shanghai, the senators warned that missile sales might prompt Congress to reconsider other agreements with China, including trade agreement.