China visit heartens Israeli defense chief

Friday, September 11, 1998 | by

BEIJING (JPS)—After meeting with President Jiang Zemin and other top military and government leaders here last week, Israel’s



Mordechai met with Jiang at a guest house in Beijing on Wednesday of last week. The meeting was to have lasted a half hour, but went on for more than 90 minutes.

Jiang reiterated to Mordechai that Chinese policy opposes passing nuclear technology to Iran or helping it develop weapons of mass destruction. But Mordechai failed to get assurances that China won't sell long-range, surface-to-surface missiles to Iran.

"I very much hope that there will be a limitation, or reduction in the freedom of movement so that these advanced technologies won't find their way to countries which threaten Israel," Mordechai said.

"China understands the dangers and understands the security needs of Israel, and I am saying this as an understatement."

Israel lauded China last year for assurances that Beijing would not help Iran build a nuclear reactor, but some Israeli analysts assert that China still transfers key weapons technology to Teheran.

Mordechai also briefed Jiang on the peace talks with the Palestinians.

In his first reaction to North Korea's recent test launch of a ballistic missile, Mordechai said: "I think there are two dangers here. The first is that North Korea has this capability, and second, it has ties and relations with countries like Iran and Syria. There is no doubt that this…capability is a dangerous development."

Jiang promised his country's help in finding missing Israel Air Force aviator Ron Arad through its contacts with Iran.

According to Mordechai, Jiang said that China had already queried Teheran on the matter but had never received a reply.

"He said he would renew the request," Mordechai said.

Mordechai felt a good chemistry between himself and Jiang. He also appeared to win over the heart of China Defense Minister Gen. Chi Haotian, who ended an hour-long working meeting with a bear hug.

On Wednesday of last week, Mordechai toured the famous Forbidden City and laid a wreath at the Monument of the People's Heroes at Tiananmen Square. Later he was received by an honor guard at the Chinese Military Museum.