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File photo: Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan - photo by Toshifumi Kitamura Copyright AFP 2000
China To Put US Missile Plans On ASEAN Agenda
Beijing (AFP) July 21, 2000 - China will make sure American plans to establish an anti-missile defense will be put on the agenda when a regional security forum meets later this month, the foreign ministry said on Friday.

The Bangkok meeting of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), which is the only security forum with major powers like the United States, China and Russia on board, is a good opportunity to air Beijing's wrath over the US plans, a ministry official said.

"As far as I am concerned, ARF needs to send a political message about this issue," said the official, who asked not to be identified.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, which originally took the initiative to establish ARF, groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

ARF members also include Australia, Canada, China, the European Union, India, Japan, South Korea, Mongolia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Russia, and the United States.

Foreign Ministry Tang Jiaxuan will raise the US anti-missile defense plans in plenary meetings of the forum, which will meet from Wednesday to Friday next week.

He may also discuss it during one-on-one talks with his counterparts from other participating nations, according to the official.

It still remains to be decided with which foreign ministers Tang will have bilateral talks during the Bangkok meetings, the official said.

China is vehemently opposed to US plans to develop a national missile defense, and even more to its regional counterpart, the proposed theater missile defense (TMD).

The US says it needs the systems to protect itself against rogue states such as North Korea, which are steadily improving their missile technology.

Chinese policy makers fear that TMD, if it were to include Taiwan, would make it more difficult for it to conduct missile diplomacy against the island.

They are also nervous that TMD would strengthen military cooperation between the US and Japan, and lead to a more active Japanese arms build-up.

When Russian President Vladimir Putin visited China earlier this week, he and his Chinese counterpart Jiang Zemin issued a strong condemnation of the US plans and warned they could spark a new arms race.

The Chinese foreign ministry official said Friday that one of the negative trends in the Asia-Pacific region was for some unidentified countries to maintain a "cold-war" mentality.

Not only the anti-missile shield plans, but also joint exercises between military forces in the region tend to reduce stability, the official argued.

Although most of the countries claiming parts of the hotly-contested South China Sea will be present at the ARF meeting, China will not take the initiative to bring up the topic, the official said.

But if the issue was raised by others, China will be willing to discuss it, the official said.

In the past, China has been more comfortable with negotiating South China Sea issues in bilateral talks with other countries that have an interest in the area.

In May, China reached an agreement with visiting Philippine President Joseph Estrada to settle territorial disputes peacefully.

The disputes in the South China Sea mostly center around the Spratly islands, a reputedly mineral-rich archipelago claimed in whole or in part by China, Taiwan and ASEAN members Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Copyright 2000 AFP. All rights reserved. The material on this page is provided by AFP and may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 Russia, US Set To Lock Horns Over Missile Shield
Nago, Japan (AFP) July 20, 2000 - Russian President Vladimir Putin looks set to lock horns with US President Bill Clinton over a US scheme for a ballistic missile shield at a Group of Eight summit here.

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