Perry Warns China about Weapons Sales to Iran Reports Exaggerated, Chinese General Says

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Defense Secretary William Perry told China's defense minister Monday that weapons sales to Iran could backfire on China.

Gen. Chi Haotian, the Chinese official, said he would "consider the point" but maintained that reports of the sales had been exaggerated.

The Chinese also consented in principle to allowing U.S. warships to continue making port visits in Hong Kong after July 1997, when China regains sovereignty over the colony, according to a senior U.S. defense official who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity. Perry commented on Iran during a discussion of weapons proliferation. The briefing officer reported that Perry told Chi, "Even legal arms sales to Iran threaten U.S. interests, but could also threaten China's because of China's increased dependence on oil from the (Persian) Gulf. . . . It could backfire on China" should a conflict erupt in the gulf area. When asked about the sale of missile technology to Pakistan and Iran, Gen. Chi said China was interested only in "peace and stability." He said, "Some of the issues have been exaggerated, and some of these issues simply do not exist," adding that China had carefully guarded its technology exports under a Missile Technology Control agreement with the United States. Perry said there was nothing more important than preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and the two powers should work together to prevent the movement of such weapons or nuclear materials to other nations. …