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Thu, Mar 15, 2001 - Page 3 News List

China warns US against selling AEGIS to Taiwan

JAW-BONING Beijing's head of arms control said yesterday the US should stop selling arms to Taiwan, emphasizing that it would violate communiques the US had signed with China

AFP , BEIJING

China's top arms control official yesterday warned the US against selling the sophisticated AEGIS weapons system to Taiwan or including the country in a regional missile defense system.

China is worried the AEGIS satellite anti-missile system might be plugged into larger US military systems and turn Taiwan into a quasi-alliance partner, said Sha Zukang (沙祖康), head of the foreign ministry's department of arms control.

"Of the arms they have proposed to sell to Taiwan, the AEGIS is the worst," Sha, who has 16 years of experience in arms controls talks, said at a briefing in Beijing. "It's a very, very serious issue."

Sha's warning came just weeks before annual US-Taiwan arms talks at which Taiwan is expected to unveil a shopping list of sophisticated weapons, including AEGIS-equipped destroyers.

AEGIS is a total weapons system that is centered around a powerful radar that can track more than 100 targets at a time and is capable of detecting and wiping out missiles, submarines, surface vessels and aircraft.

"Taiwan is part of China, and it's none of your business," Sha said. "Arms sales to a part of a country is wrong."

Sha's remarks came shortly after Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan (唐家璇) used similar harsh language last week to characterize US weapons sales to Taiwan.

Sha claimed that US arms sales violated communiques that the US and China signed in the 1970s and 1980s to reach a reasonable level of clarity on the Taiwan issue and enable Washington and Beijing to normalize relations.

In the third and last of the communiques, from August 1982, the US said its arms sales to Taiwan would not exceed those of recent years and that it would "reduce gradually its sales of arms to Taiwan, leading over a period of time to a final resolution."

"Those commitments are in black and white, and we expect them to commit to them," Sha said.

Sha also warned the US against including Taiwan in a Theater Missile Defense (TMD) system, the regional version of a national missile shield that the new US administration has said it will develop.

"Any transfer, in whatever form, disguised or not, or piece by piece, of TMD to Taiwan is a violation and an interference in internal affairs," he said.

Sha's comments come just days before Vice Premier Qian Qichen (錢其琛) begins a visit to the US, becoming the highest-ranking Chinese politician to meet face-to-face with US President George W Bush.

He said China welcomed US offers to talk about the anti-missile defense plans, although he could not confirm if Qian would raise the issue with his US hosts.

Sha said China was not opposed to TMD "per se" as a way to provide tactical defense for military units, but only if it ties into a larger national missile defense and constitutes its "front deployment."

He suggested there would be no room for a quid pro quo deal in which China agreed to reduce the number of missiles pointed towards Taiwan in return for concessions on TMD by the US.

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