China Agrees To Non-Proliferation Talks
Washington (AFP) June 6, 2000 - Beijing has agreed to formal discussions with the United States on non-proliferation and is moving toward talks with Taiwan, a senior State Department official said Tuesday.
"The Chinese have agreed to start a formal non-proliferation dialogue and the details are being worked out," said the official, adding that he expected the talks to begin "soon".
A second State Department official contacted by telephone said the talks would likely take place next month.
"We hope to find mutually convenient dates in July to hold discussions on arms control and non-proliferation issues," he said.
The senior official pointed out that China's view on US interest in creating a national missile defense system was that it would negate Beijing's nuclear deterrence, and would "start to ante up an arms race" in the region.
In Beijing, a top government spokeswoman on Tuesday also hinted the Chinese leadership would object to Russia and Europe developing a joint anti-missile system to balance the US' proposed system.
Discussing cross-Strait relations, the State Department official noted that since the May inauguration in Taiwan of pro-independence candidate Chen Shui-bian, there had been some loosening in Beijing's attitude on the definition of its "One China" policy.
"There is a slightly increased amount of wiggle room in there," said the official, who spoke with first-hand knowledge of Asian affairs.
Beijing previously has threatened military action if Taiwan does not adhere to the principle which describes Taiwan and the mainland as part of the same nation.
Chen has said everything, including "One China", should be up for discussion.
"(There's) enough overlap in points of view that I think we can have some talks," the official said, but declined to predict when the talks could begin.
Taiwan's top official handling relations with rival China is to visit the United States next week to seek Washington's support for the new government's mainland policy, Taipei news reports said Tuesday.
Taiwan has been one of the focal points in the US relationship with China since Washington recognized Beijing in 1979, and has frequently flared into heated exchanges between the three parties.
According to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Washington has strived hard to keep the Taiwan issue rhetoric down while working on constructive solutions to the tense cross-Strait relationship.
The United States "is trying to encourage patience and prudence," he said, adding that "creativity on the One China policy ... will probably be the basis of talks."
Speaking to President Bill Clinton's stated belief that deeper trade ties with China and Beijing's eventual accession to the World Trade Organization would improve the rule of law in that country, the official cautioned the process would be a long one.
He did say, however, that Beijing's tight control was slipping as it struggled to keep up with its own fast-paced economy.
"The new economy and global economy is based on a sort of free-wheeling operation, free information flow and open markets. A lot of facets of Chinese business are occurring in this manner, and the politics are having a hard time keeping up."