February 14, 2006

China says charges it has agents in US groundless

BEIJING (Reuters) - China rejected charges on Tuesday that
it had covert agents operating in the United States to export
military equipment, calling such accusations groundless.

U.S. prosecutors last week charged a Taiwanese citizen and
a Frenchman of trying to illegally export an F-16 jet engine,
Blackhawk helicopter engines and cruise missiles to China,
alleging they violated the Arms Export Control Act.

"This kind of accusation that China is collecting
scientific and military intelligence is groundless," Foreign
Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a news conference.

"China's military imports go through strict surveillance.
Chinese enterprises will never purchase any military goods that
cannot provide legal documents," Liu said.

Washington has repeatedly expressed concern about Beijing's
intentions as it pours more money into its military, and
believes its military growth could upset the balance of power
with Taiwan, which relies on U.S. weaponry to defend itself.

China has vowed to attack Taiwan, the self-ruled island it
claims as its own, if it formally declares independence. Such a
fight could embroil the United States, which has diplomatic
ties with Beijing but has pledged to defend Taiwan in case of

China also distanced itself from an investigation in Tokyo
into Japan's Mitutoyo Corp., which Japanese media said was
suspected of exporting equipment that could be used in
producing nuclear weapons.

Police believe Mitutoyo, which produces and sells precision
measuring equipment, illegally sold equipment that could be
used to enrich uranium to Japanese companies in China and
Thailand. A similar device made by the firm was found in Libya,
the reports said.

Liu said the charges concerned Mitutoyo and its
subsidiaries alone.

"We investigated this issue and found it has nothing to do
with China," he said.

"China's position on nonproliferation is clear. We
resolutely oppose any proliferation," Liu said, adding that
China abides by the regulations of the nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty.