China to control missile technology exports

Monday, August 26, 2002

BEIJING -- China said Sunday it issued new regulations controlling the export of missile technology, taking steps to ease U.S. concerns about transferring sensitive equipment to Middle East nations, particularly Iran.

However, the new rules apparently do not ban outright the transfer of specific items -- something Washington long has urged Beijing to do.

The new rules set out a licensing system for exporting missile technology, requiring exporters to be registered and transfers to be approved by government regulatory bodies, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan was quoted by Xinhua as saying the new regulations demonstrate that China "stands against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems."

The rules were signed into law by Premier Zhu Rongji on Thursday and took effect the same day, Xinhua said.

The White House praised the new export safeguards Sunday, but made clear that many other weapons-related issues remain on the table between the two nations.

The Chinese announcement came as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage arrived in Beijing. He is expected to discuss a planned visit to the United States in October by Chinese President Jiang Zemin.

Chinese missile exports long have been a sticking point in relations with the United States.

China promised in November 2000 to tighten export controls, but Washington imposed sanctions for China's allegedly supplying missile and nuclear arms technology to Pakistan. Washington has long urged Beijing to publish a list of banned technologies and clarify its rules on exports of other items.

The U.S. State Department said in July that the United States would impose sanctions against nine Chinese companies for transferring sensitive equipment to the Middle East, principally to Iran.

In return for its cooperation on proliferation, Beijing wants an end to such penalties as a ban on launching U.S. commercial satellites on Chinese rockets. China also may be trying to undercut U.S. support for weapons sales to Taiwan, the island republic China considers its own.

Although the regulations apparently do not ban outright any specific items, they state that exports possibly affecting national security and state interests must be submitted to the State Council -- which is China's Cabinet -- and the powerful Central Military Commission for approval.

They also lay out criminal and civil punishments for falsifying applications or attempting to export controlled items without a license, including prosecution for trading in state secrets.

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