REPORT: U.S. will share details on missile shield with China

Sunday, September 2nd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Bush administration will offer China an early look at plans for testing a proposed missile defense system in an effort to ease Beijing's opposition to the U.S. shield, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

The White House also will tell the Chinese that it does not object to China's plan to expand its limited arsenal of nuclear missiles, The New York Times said.

Both sides also may want to resume testing nuclear weapons testing in the future despite the current worldwide moratorium, the newspapers reported.

Condoleezza Rice, President Bush's national security adviser, said the administration soon would begin talks to try to convince China it would not be threatened by the shield and should not aim more missiles at the United States.

``We want to engage China on issues regarding missile defense, and we really haven't,'' Rice told the Post. ``We want to have serious talks with them about why this is not a threat to them. We want to have serious talks with them about why we think stability in the Asia-Pacific region would be well served by this capability.''

Bush is scheduled to visit Beijing next month.

Early reaction from Capitol Hill was critical.

``I would not like to see the Chinese expand their nuclear capabilities,'' said Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa. ``I think it is much too soon to even think about matters that offset our missile defense.''

China is ``the coming colossus of the world and a superpower,'' Specter said Sunday on CBS' ``Face the Nation.'' ``I would not want to see them become any more powerful in the nuclear line. I think we ought to formulate our policy in many different ways to try to avoid just that.''

A missile shield, now in its early stages of development, would knock enemy missiles out of the sky before they reach the United States.

China now has some two dozen missiles aimed at the United States; experts say that number could increase tenfold over the next 10 years.

Rice told the Times that the United States ``is not about to propose to the Chinese that in exchange for Chinese acceptance of missile defense, we will accept a nuclear buildup.'' While Washington does not believe the Chinese have reason to expand their nuclear forces, Rice said that ``their modernization has been under way for some time.''

Added a senior administration official: ``We know the Chinese will enhance their nuclear capability anyway, and we are going to say to them, `We're not going to tell you not to do it.'''