SCMP Tuesday, January 9, 2001

China report targets US security policies

REUTERS in Beijing

Beijing fired a pre-emptive verbal strike at the incoming George W. Bush administration on Tuesday, saying the US missile defence proposals that strained bilateral ties last year will have ''formidable, adverse global impacts''.
In a report in the official China Daily published as Mr Bush began following up on campaign pledges to beef up the US military and build a national missile defence system, Beijing also slammed US military alliances and arms sales to Taiwan.
Using Chinese codewords for US power such as ''hegemony'' and ''power politics,'' the report said Washington's military alliances and security policies would trigger an arms race and jeopardise regional security.
''Such growing power politics is poisoning the trend towards multi-polarity, undermining the conditions necessary for establishing new political and economic orders and breeding the potential danger of a new arms race,'' People's Liberation Army (PLA) security expert Luo Yuan was quoted as saying.
Beijing used every opportunity last year to attack US proposals to build a National Missile Defence (NMD) system to protect America and its allies from ballistic missiles from hostile states. Russia joined China in the criticism.
President Bill Clinton handed to his successor the decision on whether to go ahead with the missile defence shield.
Chinese President Jiang Zemin pledged last month to work with Mr Bush, despite shrill Chinese warnings before the US election about the consequences of a victory for Mr Bush, perceived as hawkish towards the mainland and friendly towards Taiwan.
Sha Zukang, the Chinese Foreign Ministry's top arms control official, said China would focus on NMD in 2001.
''We expect that the new US government will weigh the pros and cons carefully and make a sensible judgment,'' he wrote in the official Beijing Review this month.
Mr Bush, who will be sworn in as the 43rd US president on January 20, met congressional defence leaders on Monday to begin turning campaign promises of a stronger military and NMD into reality.
Mr Bush, asked how he would persuade sceptical allies to accept US deployment of a missile defence system hotly opposed by China and Russia, told reporters the issue would require ''a lot of give and take''.
''It's a sensitive subject for some members...It's a sensitive subject for leaders of different countries around the world. On the other hand, I think it's our obligation to do everything we can to protect America and our allies from the real threats of the 21st century.''
Mr Luo, a top official at the Department of Strategic Studies of the PLA Academy of Military Science, also listed ''nationalities splittism'' as threat to Asia-Pacific security - a reference to separatist ambitions in Taiwan, Tibet and other regions.
Taiwan is the most sensitive issue in China-US ties and has the potential to drag the two into war. Washington has had no diplomatic relations with Taipei since 1979, but is the island's biggest arms supplier.
Mr Luo was quoted by the China Daily as saying there was no reason for the United States to continue to sell arms to Taiwan.
However, despite a nascent thaw this year in Beijing's relations with Taiwan, Mr Luo revealed deep PLA suspicions about Taipei, saying that completing reunification remained an ''arduous ask'' for the world's largest army.