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Taiwan, Missile Defense Top Cohen's China Talks

By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service

BEIJING, July 12, 2000 – China's national defense minister says China seeks a peaceful reunification with Taiwan and does not intend to use military force, a senior U.S. official reported here July 12.

Following a meeting between Gen. Haotian Chi and U.S. Defense Secretary William S. Cohen, the U.S. official said the men expressed a "willingness to resolve differences en route to what they hope will be a peaceful reunification." At the same time, the official added, the Chinese reserved their right as a sovereign nation to use military force.

Cohen described the morning meeting as a positive "give and take" on such issues as theater missile defense, national missile defense, proliferation and military-to-military cooperation.

"It was very open, and I thought as good as it gets in terms of engaging one another," he told U.S. reporters traveling with him. The secretary said his goal was to explain the U.S. global role in promoting stability and prosperity and in reinforcing democratic ideals pertaining to people's ability to achieve their highest potential.

He reported that the Chinese indicated their willingness to cooperate on a number of humanitarian initiatives, possibly including training exercises, he said. The Chinese also agreed to participate in the Asia-Pacific Centers for Security Studies in Hawaii, which represents a new level of engagement.

On the Taiwan issue, Cohen said he reaffirmed the U.S. support of the one China policy and its commitment to Taiwan's self defense. He said he mentioned to the Chinese that they could reduce tensions by reducing the threat of their missiles along the Taiwan Strait. The missiles, he said, increase pressure in Taiwan to provide defenses.

Asked how the Chinese responded, Cohen replied, "They listened to my suggestions."

Cohen said the Chinese leaders oppose a U.S. national missile defense system because they believe it would upset the strategic balance. "I think that they will continue to be opposed to NMD. We will continue our research and development and then make a decision as far as deployment is concerned."

He said he pointed out that NMD has become "a reality by virtue of the proliferation of missile technology and weapons of mass destruction." NMD is not directed against China, he said, but there is a need to protect the American people against the threat or use of a long-range missile attack.

Some people who once supported the Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty no longer do because of the changed circumstances, Cohen noted. The Clinton administration, however, is committed to working within the ABM framework, provided it could be modified to allow for a limited type of defensive system, he said.

The U.S. and Chinese delegations also discussed theater missile defense. "I raised the issue about our TMD program, … that we had a number of them under way in research and development, but we had to make sure that our armed forces that were deployed were in fact protected against ballistic missiles," he said. "We didn’t discuss it in a context of Taiwan. I think it’s clear that they would … be opposed to it, but we didn’t get into that discussion.

"I indicated that we were willing to discuss with the Russians their concept for TMD and also for a boost-phased intercept system -- that was something that was much further down the line and would not be a substitute for what we were currently exploring."

Proliferation was another topic on the agenda, according to Cohen. He said Chinese officials indicated they are complying with their nonproliferation agreements and denied they are transferring technology to Pakistan or elsewhere.

Cohen said Chi was pleased to receive an invitation for a reciprocal visit. Chi last visited the United States in 1996.

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Related Sites:
DoD News Briefing: Secretary Cohen remarks at Ministry of National Defense, Beijing, China, July 12, 2000
DoD News Briefing: Secretary Cohen remarks after signing Environmental MOU between U.S. and China, July 12, 2000
DoD Background Briefing: Secretary of Defense Trip to China and Australia, July 6, 2000

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