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China Agreed To Join World War III
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China Agreed To Join World War III
By Jeremy Page
BEIJING (Reuters) - A U.S. declaration of war on global terror after deadly attacks on New York and Washington has thrown the spotlight on China's often murky ties with nations branded by Washington as ``state sponsors of terrorism.''
As President Bush rallies a global coalition to respond to the worst-ever attack on U.S. soil, China is sure to come under pressure over its investment in and sales of arms technology to nations including North Korea, Iran and Libya.
A global stand against terrorism could represent a diplomatic coming of age for China, forcing it to subordinate private concerns to the interests of the international community, some analysts argue.
But while Beijing may offer tacit support for some form of retaliation agreed through the United Nations, it is unlikely to adjust its foreign policy to appease a wounded and angry United States, analysts said.
``There's certainly going to be more pressure but I'm not sure it's going to have much effect,'' said one Western diplomat. ``China is going to continue to do what it believes to be in its best national interests.''
``There's certainly potential for it to move them toward a more modern, multilateral, involved form of foreign policy but it doesn't have to go that way.''
CHINA BACKS WAR ON TERROR
China's President Jiang Zemin has made a personal pledge to Bush to join the war on terrorism and analysts say the two share some common ground in that area.
Beijing faces its own threat in the northwestern region of Xinjiang from Islamic independence activists, some trained in Afghanistan, who have assassinated officials and set off bombs.
China is acutely aware of the terrorist threat as it prepares to host a meeting of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Shanghai and a U.S.-China summit in October, as well as the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
But for years, China has pursued commercial and military ties with nations on a U.S. blacklist of ``state sponsors of terrorism,'' including Iran, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, North Korea, Syria and Cuba.
Chinese oil firms have invested in Sudan despite U.S. charges that they are aiding the Islamist government in Sudan's north by providing revenues to fund its war against Christian and tribal rebels in the south.
Chinese telecommunications firm Huawei Technologies Co recently withdrew from a project in Iraq following persistent U.S. accusations it was helping the regime of Saddam Hussein to bolster air defenses.
CIA Director George Tenet told Congress this month Chinese ''entities'' supplied ballistic missile-related equipment and assistance last year to Pakistan and Iran -- branded the most active state sponsor of terrorism by Washington.
And China has been quietly forging ties with Afghanistan's Taliban regime, which is harboring Saudi-born multi-millionaire Osama bin Laden -- Washington's chief suspect in the kamikaze airliner attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The Taliban have only avoided the U.S. blacklist because the U.S. government does not recognize them as the Afghan government.
CHINA PLEADS INNOCENT
China insists it has not violated any international or bilateral commitments on terrorism or proliferation of conventional and nuclear weapons.
It is merely trying to safeguard China's oil supplies, counter-balance U.S. influence in world affairs and maintain good relations with its neighbors, Chinese analysts say.
``As a developing country, we have a right to maintain normal relations with these countries,'' said Liu Jingzhi, an expert on international relations at Peking University.
``Of course, if they have some polices that we can't support, especially on terrorism and nuclear weapons proliferation, then we will oppose them, but this won't affect normal relations.''
Such apparent contradictions lie at the heart of China's foreign policy, analysts say.
But they will not wash in a climate where U.S. officials utter words like those of Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage: ''You are with us or you're not. Are you on our team or not. There is no gray area.''