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CHINESE foreign minister to see Powell in Washington this month

Updated:

WASHINGTON (AP) _ China's foreign minister will hold talks in Washington on Sept. 21 with Secretary of State Colin Powell and other senior Bush administration officials, the State Department said Thursday.

Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan's visit, which begins on Sept. 20, was cast by department spokesman Richard Boucher as ``an opportunity to try to build a constructive relationship'' with China.

The announcement coincided with a flare-up over China's blacklisting of Credit Suisse First Boston, an investment bank that angered Beijing by inviting senior officials from Taiwan to speak at a conference this year.

The U.S. ambassador to China, Clark Randt Jr., did not attend a dinner with Chinese officials Wednesday night in Shanghai. Boucher refused to link Randt's absence at the dinner with China's position on financial service companies.

But, the spokesman said Thursday, ``We are concerned about the matter. We've already raised it with the Chinese government.''

Tang's visit will help set the stage for President Bush's trip to China in mid-October. Among topics due for discussion in Washington are China's assertion that it intends to build up its nuclear forces and a U.S. complaint that a Chinese government-owned company sent missile technology to Pakistan.

``I think it'll be a chance to discuss any number of issues on the U.S.-China agenda: the cooperation that we have on issues of trade, cooperation we have at the United Nations, on regional issues, things like Korea,'' Boucher said.

``I'm sure missile defense will come up. Also, I'm sure, issues of proliferation, nonproliferation efforts will come up.''

China's pledge to proceed with a nuclear buildup no matter what Bush did about building a missile defense system prompted misgivings among top Bush administration officials.

In Beijing on Thursday, Foreign Minister spokesman Zhu Bangzao said China was willing to discuss U.S. missile defense plans with the administration, although it still opposed the program.

Zhu said China had not received a proposal from U.S. officials, who have said they would offer Chinese leaders the same technology briefing given European, Russian and other governments.

Upgrading China's nuclear arsenal and other military forces was described Wednesday by a Chinese official in Washington as a natural progression that goes hand-in-hand with development of the country's economy.

He said China intended to proceed without conducting nuclear weapons tests, which are banned by international treaty. The Senate has refused to ratify the treaty, and the Bush administration is leaving it on the shelf even while maintaining a self-imposed moratorium on testing initiated by the Clinton administration.

On another troubled front, the Bush administration last week accused the China Metallurgical Equipment Corp., a government-owned engineering company, of supplying missile-related parts to Pakistan.

For two years, the company will be denied all new U.S. licenses for production of electronics and military equipment and for material used to launch commercial satellites.

On Wednesday in Beijing, and also at the Chinese Embassy, the U.S. allegation was denied. The company did not ship material to Pakistan in violation of the agreement, a Chinese official at the embassy said, and China has asked the Bush administration for evidence.
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