Nuclear and Military Cooperation


A series of agreements on non-proliferation and military exchanges signified distinct progress in U.S.-China nuclear and military co-operation. Both America and China share a common interest in controlling the spread of weapons of mass destruction to regions that are perceived as unstable or rogue nations. America looks favorably upon China’s agreement to join the Zangger Committee, an international group which coordinates the world’s nuclear suppliers’ efforts to monitor nuclear exports and the Chemical Weapons Convention.

During the summit, China agreed to strengthen control over its nuclear arsenal. For the first time, China imposed strict national regulations to control exports of nuclear materials, equipment and technology. In addition, China agreed not to provide any assistance, including personnel or scientific exchanges, to any non-safeguarded nuclear facilities. China also decided to enact controls over the export of chemical weapons. Moreover, China and the U.S. agreed to work to bring the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty into force as soon as possible. China also agreed to pursue the early start of formal negotiations on the Treaty on the Prohibition of the Production of Fissile Materials Used in Nuclear Weapons and Other Nuclear Explosions at the UN Conference on Disarmament.

China’s past military and technology exchanges with Iran have been an American concern. Last June, a CIA report charged that China was the world’s number one proliferator of equipment and technology associated with weapons of mass destruction. However, China provided assurances to America that it will not engage in new nuclear cooperation with Iran. In return, Washington agreed to implement the 1985 China-U.S. Agreement on Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation allowing the sale of peaceful American nuclear technology to China.

America and China share the common goal of expanding their military relationship in ways that minimize the chances for miscalculation, advance openness, and strengthen communication.

During his visit to Washington, D.C., President Jiang met with U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen. Cohen’s trip to Beijing, planned for November but postponed because of the situation in Iraq, took place from January 17 to 21, 1998. The planned information exchange between American and Chinese armed forces regarding humanitarian crises and disaster relief brought closer coordination to their efforts.

A Military Maritime Safety agreement was reached during the summit and signed by Cohen during his trip to Beijing. The accord was designed to avoid incidents, miscalculation, or mis-understandings between naval forces.

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