China Slams Cold War
Thinking Over US Plans
For Preemptive Strike
BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing, responding for the first time on Tuesday to reports that the United States considered a preemptive nuclear strike on China in 1964, lashed out at ``bankrupt'' Cold War thinking. A report on Sunday by the Los Angeles Times that top aides to then President Lyndon Johnson weighed using nuclear weapons to halt China's nuclear programme ``is a reflection of Cold War thinking and the pursuit of a China containment policy,'' the foreign ministry said. ``As everyone knows, this Cold War thinking and containment policy ended in utter bankruptcy,'' the ministry said in a statement in response to a reporter's question. Johnson aides decided after long debate that the risks of a nuclear attack were too great, according to the Times report, which was based on a recently declassified State Department foreign policy papers. China conducted its first nuclear test on October 16, 1964. The foreign ministry statement urged both American and Chinese people to ``use history as a mirror and prevent the Cold War mentality from coming back from the dead to obstruct the improvement and development of bilateral relations.'' Although the two countries remained at odds during China's xenophobic Cultural Revolution and the Vietnam War, they began to patch up their relations in the early 1970s in the face of what they saw as a common threat from the then Soviet Union. A visit to China in 1972 by Johnson's successor, Richard Nixon, paved the way for dialogue leading to the normalisation of diplomatic relations in 1978. The 1980s honeymoon as the United States warmed to the economic liberalisation policies of paramount leader Deng Xiaoping was shattered on June 4, 1989 when Deng ordered troops to fire on pro-democracy demonstrators around Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Last June Bill Clinton became the first U.S. president to visit China since the Tiananmen massacre, signalling warming political ties. The military forces of the two sides have also stepped up exchanges and discussed ways to avert accidents at sea and possible joint anti-disaster operations. The 1964 debate on whether to attack China was revealed as Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan arrived in Washington for a three-day visit during which he was expected to discuss trade and Taiwan, the most contentious bilateral issues. The United States has expressed impatience with China's market barriers and a two-way trade surplus expected to jump by 20 percent to $60 billion this year. China, which regards Taiwan as a rebel province that must be reunited with the mainland, has protested against a recent U.S. decision to sell $350 million worth of weapons to the Taiwan.