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CIA Chief Paid Unannounced Visit to China

October 21, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ CIA director John Deutch made a secret visit to China last week amid reports of weapons technology sales to Pakistan and a new crackdown on political dissidents.

Deutch was in China last Monday through Wednesday accompanied by Winston Lord, assistant secretary of state for the Far East, and then went to South Korea, spokesman Mark Mansfield of the Central Intelligence Agency said.

The purpose of Deutch’s visit was ``to exchange views on a range of important global trends and concerns, and to discuss transnational threats,″ Mansfield said, citing terrorism and weapons proliferation as examples.

If China agrees there will be followup visits by U.S. experts in weapons proliferation questions and by Lynn E. Davis, the under secretary of State for arms control.

All this comes against a backdrop of allegations that China sold technology to Pakistan, a poison-gas plant to Iran and ballistic missile parts to Syria.

But even as this sequence of trips unfolded Monday the State Department reiterated there it has no evidence that China has violated a pledge it made in May to curb its technology transfers.

``We believe, based on the information available to us, China is meeting its commitments,″ spokesman Nicholas Burns said. ``This is an issue of great concern to us. We’re going to continue to work on it.″

China was reported recently by The Washington Times to have made a deal with Pakistan to provide technology that could be used in missile production. However, the State Department said there was no evidence China had reneged on its pledge in May to curb such transfers.

That conclusion has not been changed as a result of Deutch’s trip, said an administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Secretary of State Warren Christopher plans to go to Beijing next month as part of an administration effort to improve relations with China despite concerns about weapons proliferation and harsh treatment of pro-democracy dissidents.

Last week, China joined with the Untied States in the U.N. Security Council in severely criticizing North Korea for sending a submarine into South Korean waters.

``There are a number of issues where we can work very positively and fruitfully together,″ Burns said.

On human rights, the administration is publicly critical of the Chinese government while suggesting the best approach is to try to persuade Beijing officials to be tolerant of dissent.

Last Tuesday, Wang Xizhe, a leading Chinese dissident who had called for the impeachment of President Jiang Zemin and demanded a free press fled to the United States under a special emergency visa.

He had left Canton out of fear the government would punish him for his actions, the State Department said.

Another prominent Chinese dissident, Wang Dan, faces trial this week on charges of plotting to overthrow the government.

Wang, 27, who served four years in jail as a leader of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student protests, was taken into custody on May 21, 1995, after he organized petitions calling for tolerance and freedom.

Other political dissidents are being targeted, as well.

In Beijing, the Foreign Ministry did not respond to a query about the Deutch trip.

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