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Tuesday, 16 July, 2002, 10:00 GMT 11:00 UK
Britain tasks China over weapons spread
Chinese missile
China is accused of exporting missile technology
The British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, has called on China to help stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.


There is an obvious responsibility on arms exporting nations

UK Foreign Minister Jack Straw
In a speech in Beijing on his first trip to China, Mr Straw said arms exporting nations had a "responsibility" to curb the spread of such weapons and ensure international rules were observed.

Mr Straw singled out Iraq and North Korea in particular as "cheats" who are not fulfilling their obligations to such regulations.

But a BBC correspondent in China, Francis Markus, says it was the context of Mr Straw's speech that was significant, more than any radical new policy content.

Beijing has consistently voiced opposition to any prospect of a US-led war against Iraq - about which there has been rising speculation in the media - and it considers North Korea a close ally.

International policing

"We share a responsibility to hold the cheats, such as Iraq, to account," Mr Straw said in a speech to Beijing's elite Tsinghua University.

"North Korea's continuing refusal to abide by its commitments under the non-proliferation treaty and the agreed framework is another grave cause of concern.

Jack Straw (left) meets Chinese President Jiang Zemin
It is Mr Straw's first visit to China

"There is an obvious responsibility on arms exporting nations - the United Kingdom and China included - to take all-necessary steps to end this abuse of the international order," he added.

US officials have identified China as one of the world's main suppliers of missile-related technologies and nuclear materials.

They have accused China of helping its most important strategic and military ally, Pakistan, of assisting Islamabad in the development of a long-range nuclear missile programme - something China denies.

Human rights

Mr Straw also gently reminded China of its commitments to a UN document on political and human rights which Beijing signed four years ago but has yet to ratify.

"The Universal Declaration on Human Rights sets out the goal: human rights are there for everyone to enjoy everywhere.

"The international community - including China - has to work together to make this a reality," he said.

Mr Straw met Chinese President Jiang Zemin on Monday, who told him that relations between the two countries are better than ever.

He is due to leave for Japan later on Tuesday, and will visit Hong Kong, India and Pakistan later this week.

See also:

15 Jul 02 | Middle East
04 Jul 00 | Asia-Pacific
09 May 02 | Americas
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