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Chinese Leader Says Arms Sales to Arabs Won’t Threaten Israel

September 17, 1992
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Chinese Foreign Minister Qian Qichen this week assured Israel his country will make sure that arms and nuclear equipment sales to Iran and the Arab states do not threaten Israel’s security.

Qian, making the first visit to Israel by a senior Chinese official, touched on the arms issue Wednesday in a 90-minute meeting with Foreign Minister Shimon Peres.

The meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem was described by Peres as “very friendly.”

“Relations between the two countries are now on the right road,” Israel’s foreign minister told reporters after the meeting. He said the discussion ranged over economic issues and cooperation in the fields of health, science and agriculture. Qian, speaking through an interpreter, told the media that his country welcomes the “flexible policy approach adopted by Israel’s new government” in the peace process.

The Chinese minister was due to meet in East Jerusalem on Wednesday evening with Palestinian leader Faisal Husseini.

While discussing expanding ties with Jerusalem, the Chinese visitor said his country planned to boycott Middle East arms control talks of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to protest U.S. warplane sales to Taiwan.

Qian told reporters: “Under the present circumstances, China finds it difficult to take part in the negotiations on arms control by the permanent five (members) of the United Nations Security Council.

“The U.S. decision to sell F-16 jet fighters to Taiwan violated agreements between that country and China. In arms control, good faith is first and foremost,” he said. “Without good faith there would hardly be any arms control.”

The decision does not affect multilateral talks in the Middle East peace process, in which China will continue to participate.

Later Wednesday, Qian paid a courtesy call on President Chaim Herzog, whom he invited to visit Beijing.

Accepting the invitation, Herzog thanked the Chinese people for extending sanctuary to Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution who made their way to Harbin, Shanghai and other Chinese cities on the eve of World War II and in its aftermath.

Earlier in the day, the minister and his entourage of eight Chinese officials paid a visit to the Yad Vashem memorial to victims of the Holocaust.

Qian joined the Chinese foreign service in 1955 and became foreign minister four years ago. The career diplomat is said to have been a key figure behind the decision to establish diplomatic ties with Israel earlier this year.

On Thursday, he was scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, as well as with two figures from the previous Likud administration: David Levy, who during his tenure as foreign minister invited him to visit Israel, and former Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

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