China’s Hu expresses “serious concern” over Taiwan to U.S. national security adviser

AP Photo BEJ101


Associated Press Writer

BEIJING (AP) – Chinese President Hu Jintao expressed “serious concern” to U.S. National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on Friday about American arms sales to Taiwan, the self-ruled island that Beijing claims as its territory.

Hu’s comments came a day after his predecessor, Jiang Zemin, who holds a key military post, pressed Rice for Washington to end sales of advanced weapons to Taiwan’s popularly elected government.

Rice is on a three-nation Asian tour and visited Beijing to seek Chinese support for Washington’s demand that North Korea give up nuclear weapons development, as well as other issues including Iraq.

The talks are “helpful for you to get a comprehensive understanding about … our serious concern over the question of Taiwan,” Hu told her during a meeting at the Great Hall of the People in central Beijing.

China says it worries that U.S. support for Taiwan is encouraging activists who want to make its de facto independence permanent – a step that Beijing says could lead to war.

On Thursday, Jiang expressed Beijing’s frustration at U.S. weapons sales, state television reported. It said he warned that Taiwan is the “most important and sensitive issue” in relations between Washington and Beijing.

“Chinese people are seriously concerned over and dissatisfied about U.S. sales of advanced weapons to Taiwan,” the evening news paraphrased Jiang as telling Rice during a 60-minute meeting.

Jiang, chairman of the Communist Party commission that runs China’s military, pressed Rice for Washington to abide by a U.S. commitment made in the 1980s to reduce and eventually end weapons sales to Taiwan, the report said.

Taiwan and the communist mainland have been ruled separately since 1949. The United States has no formal relations with Taiwan, but is its main arms supplier and military protector.

According to an official traveling with Rice, the national security adviser on Thursday affirmed the “one-China policy,” which doesn’t support Taiwan independence. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said she repeated U.S. President George W. Bush’s opposition to any unilateral change in Taiwan’s status.

Rice began her Asian tour in Tokyo and planned to leave Beijing on Friday for Seoul.

China has arranged three rounds of talks among the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia on Washington’s demand that the North give up its nuclear weapons program.

During the latest round of six-nation talks last month, Washington offered the North energy aid and a security guarantee in exchange for dismantling its nuclear program.

The dispute erupted in 2002 when Washington said Pyongyang had admitted running a secret nuclear program in violation of a 1994 deal under which it received energy aid.

AP-ES-07-09-04 0425EDT

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