China Lashes Out At
Pentagon Missile Report
BEIJING (Reuters) - China lashed out at the United States on Monday over accusations Beijing was building a major missile force aimed at intimidating Taiwan as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright clashed with Chinese leaders on human rights.
The Pentagon report on the military situation in the Taiwan Strait was a "serious interference in China's internal affairs," Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhu Bangzao said.
"China expresses its serious dissatisfaction and resolute opposition," the Xinhua news agency quoted Zhu as saying.
The state-run agency said the report was part of a U.S. plan to step up sales of advanced weapons such as ballistic and cruise missiles to Taiwan.
The Pentagon assessment, sent to Congress last week and released on Friday, did not suggest Beijing was planning to launch an attack against Taiwan and noted that the situation in the Taiwan Strait was calm at the moment.
But it stressed that Beijing, which has considered Taiwan a renegade province since a civil war ended in 1949, had refused to renounce force against Taipei and could overwhelm Taiwan's missile defenses and superior air force with sheer numbers of weapons by 2005 if a conflict erupted.
U.S. law permits sales of defensive arms to Taiwan despite Washington's shift of diplomatic ties to Beijing in 1979 and China's opposition to any arms sales to the island.
Washington has sold F-16 warplanes, Patriot missiles and other advanced weapons to Taipei, angering Beijing.