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U.S., China Reopen Arms Control Talks

Aired July 7, 2000 - 2:04 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

LOU WATERS, CNN ANCHOR: Defense Secretary Cohen is due to go to Beijing next week. He's trying to calm Chinese concerned over the proposed missile shield. Today, a U.S. official reopened arms control talks with China to set the stage for Cohen's visit.

Here's Beijing bureau chief Rebecca MacKinnon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REBECCA MACKINNON, CNN BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF (voice-over): As he headed off for nonproliferation talks, U.S. arms negotiator John Holum was expected to raise U.S. concerns that China continues to assist Pakistan with its long-range missile program, assistance Beijing denies.

But Chinese analysts say, in Beijing's view, what China really did or didn't do is not the point.

YAN XUETONG, QINGHUA UNIVERSITY: China and the U.S. have more and more trouble on the issue of nonproliferation. And I think the main reason is that, strategically speaking, the U.S. NMD and the TMD program will strongly alter, fundamentally undermine China's strategic capability.

MACKINNON: China's leaders are rallying global opposition to U.S. plans for a national missile defense shield. In central Asia this week, President Jiang Zemin and Russian President Vladimir Putin said, NMD will upset the nuclear balance between the superpowers.

And in Rome, Chinese Prime Minister Zhu Rongji received Italian support not only against NMD, but also against TMD; plans for a theater missile defense system to protect U.S. troops in Asia, along with U.S. allies. It's a system which could potentially shield Taiwan from Chinese missiles.

Beijing considers Taiwan a breakaway island.

ZHU RONGJI, CHINESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): China is categorically opposed to the TMD plan. The system would aim to put Taiwan in a sphere of protection and this would be blatant interference in Chinese affairs.

MACKINNON (on camera): Diplomats say Beijing's point is simple: China is less likely to respect Washington's interests on arms control if the U.S. goes ahead with missile defense systems which would, in effect, weaken China's own military power.

Rebecca MacKinnon, CNN, Beijing.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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