China comes under fire by Pentagon, irate U.S. Senate

Human rights policy, military buildup criticized

February 26, 1999|By LOS ANGELES TIMES

WASHINGTON -- The United States delivered a one-two punch to China yesterday, with a Pentagon report detailing Beijing's missile and military buildup near Taiwan and a strongly worded Senate resolution condemning China's recent human rights record.

The two moves are the latest evidence of a rift since President Clinton visited China last summer to announce a new era in U.S.-Sino relations.

Beijing's increasing military presence in the South China Sea, its alleged use of U.S. satellite technology for military purposes, its recent crackdown on political dissidents and its $60 billion annual trade surplus with the United States are dominating the stage as Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright leaves today for a two-day visit to Beijing.

Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji is expected to visit Washington in April.

The Pentagon report on the security situation in the Taiwan Strait, a copy of which was provided to the Los Angeles Times, concludes that by 2005, China "will possess the capability to attack Taiwan with air and missile strikes" that would cripple key military facilities and infrastructure.

Beijing considers Taiwan a province of China, and while both governments have said they seek a peaceful solution to their long-standing dispute, Chinese leaders have refused to renounce using military force.

The 27-page report said China is likely to introduce long-range, land-attack cruise missiles as part of a sweeping modernization of its military.

In a separate move yesterday, the Senate condemned China's human rights policy in a resolution approved by all 99 members present.

Next week, the House of Representatives is expected to support the resolution, which is a nonbinding expression of congressional opinion.

Pub Date: 2/26/99

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