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The BBC's Adam Brookes
"China is worried that the new Bush administration is ready to lend new support to Taiwan"
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The BBC's Rupert Wingfield Hayes
"Washington is about to decide whether to sell Taiwan advanced weapons"
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Wednesday, 14 March, 2001, 14:05 GMT
China warns against US missile defence
US destroyer carrying NMD compatible weapons
The US wants to sell missile technology to Taiwan
China has called for urgent talks with the US over its controversial plans for a National Missile Defence system (NMD).

Senior arms negotiator Sha Zhukang launched a scathing attack on the US plans, saying it could spark a new arms race, but expressed hope that dialogue might "narrow our differences".

We can solve the issue, no matter how complicated it can be

Sha Zhukang
His comments come in the wake of a report delivered to the US Senate urging Washington to sell NMD-linked weapons systems to Taiwan to counter what it described as a growing threat from China.

NMD is likely to be high on the agenda when Chinese Vice-Premier Qian Qichen attends the first high-level meeting with the new Bush administration later this month.

'Serious issue'

Mr Sha, head of the foreign ministry's department of arms control, said attempting to solve the problem of missile proliferation with NMD would be like "drinking poison in order to quench one's thirst".

NMD will give the US early warning of attack
He warned that China would treat any sales to Taiwan of destroyers with missiles compatible with the NMD network as a "very, very serious issue".

In China's view, such a move would, he said, come dangerously close to the United States and Taiwan forming a military alliance.

But offering an apparent olive branch, Mr Sha said differences over NMD might not be insurmountable and that China was open to dialogue.

Mr Sha said his office has forwarded a series of "talking points" to Mr Qian concerning NMD to be raised in Washington.

The Bush administration says NMD is needed to protect the US from the threat of missile attacks from countries such as Iraq and North Korea.

But Mr Sha said Washington has exaggerated the threat, and that the "absolute security" of NMD would make the United States more likely to bully other countries.

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See also:

13 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
US report urges Taiwan arms sales
06 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
China warns Bush over Taiwan
21 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Q&A: Taiwan's relations with China
05 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Historic China-Taiwan trip
06 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Military funding reflects China's fears
06 Mar 01 | Asia-Pacific
Beijing fetes country cousins
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