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U.S. Warns of Chinese Military Buildup, Condemns Rights Abuses

By Bob Drogin
Los Angeles Times

The United States delivered a one-two punch to China on Thursday, 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 the rift between Washington and Beijing that has been growing in the eight months since President Clinton visited China in a summit that had appeared to herald a new era in U.S.-Sino relations.

Instead, 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 Albright leaves Friday for a two-day visit to Beijing. Chinese Premier Zhu Rongji is expected to visit Washington in April.

The 27-page Pentagon report, a sanitized version of a classified report sent to Congress earlier in the week, warns that China's short-range ballistic-missile force "is expected to grow substantially" in the next several years. The 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 Thursday, 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 and does not have the force of law.

The resolution accuses China of "widespread and well-documented human rights abuses in China and Tibet and coercive implementation of family planning policies and the sale of human organs taken from executed prisoners."

Clinton will not decide whether to push such a resolution, which China has bitterly fought in the past, until after Albright's meetings with Chinese President Jiang Zemin and other leaders Monday and Tuesday, according to another senior administration official.