White House dismisses China's spying denials

March 15, 1999 - Reuters

WASHINGTON - The White House on Monday dismissed China's denials that it had stolen nuclear weapons secrets from the United States and said the issue was sure to come up when Premier Zhu Rongji visits Washington in April.

"I certainly expect this issue will be part of the discussion, but we have a broad range of issues that we will discuss so I don't think this will be exclusive," White House spokesman Joe Lockhart said.

Asked about Zhu's statement on Monday that U.S. charges of Chinese espionage were a "farce," Lockhart said, "Well, that's his view."

Revelations that China may have improperly obtained U.S. technology to make miniature nuclear warheads during the 1980s have promoted sharp criticisms from Congressional Republicans that U.S. President Bill Clinton acted too slowly in investigating, and fierce responses from China.

Zhu, at a news conference on Monday, called the allegations of Chinese spying at the Los Alamos nuclear research library a "tale from the Arabian Nights."

Zhu said he was prepared for a hostile reception in the United States and made clear he did not intend to duck a fight over sensitive political issues.

But he also dangled the prospect of major trade concessions to secure access for China to the World Trade Organization and said China should open its markets to foreign telecommunications companies and banks.

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