Wolfowitz Holds Talks with Top Chinese General; Beijing's Military Buildup Discussed; U.S. Hot Line Bid Rejected

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Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz met yesterday with a top Chinese general and other military officials amid growing concern over the rapid buildup of Chinese military forces.

The meeting was part of annual defense policy talks and included discussion of a two-year-old proposal to set up a telephone link between the Pentagon and the Defense Ministry in Beijing, officials said.

China's military in the past has not agreed to the hot line, and its stance did not change yesterday, officials said.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Hicks said Mr. Wolfowitz had a private conversation with Lt. Gen. Xiong Guangkai, deputy chief of the military staff and leader of the Chinese delegation.

Gen. Xiong is known widely in U.S. defense circles for his remark in 1995 that contained a veiled threat by China to use nuclear weapons against Los Angeles, if the United States defended the Republic of China (Taiwan) in a conflict.

Among the topics discussed yesterday was "China's military modernization and how this affects the stability of Asia," Cmdr. Hicks said.

The U.S. side was "encouraged in the Chinese response to greater transparency in their military budget," he said.

The Chinese will today meet with CIA Director Porter J. Goss and a senior National Security Council official.

A senior defense official said before the talks that China is making "substantial qualitative and quantitative improvements" in its forces that raise concerns about potential action against Taiwan and beyond. …