Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

China's Military Moves Draw U.S. 'Concern'

WASHINGTON -- China should not underestimate U.S. determination to ensure peace for the people in Taiwan, a senior State Department official said Wednesday.

But Winston Lord, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, also minimized the threat of Chinese military aggression against Taiwan.

"All evidence at our disposal at this time leads to the conclusion that the People's Republic of China has no intention to initiate military action,'' Lord told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's panel on East Asia.

Lord, like U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry on Tuesday, wouldn't say if an attack by China on Taiwan would provoke a U.S. military response.

But he stressed a U.S. obligation to maintain Taiwan's defense force and said: "The people of the United States feel strongly about the ability of the people of Taiwan to determine their future peacefully. This sentiment must not be underestimated.''

Even as the administration expressed concern about China's military intentions, U.S. President Bill Clinton authorized the sale of several hundred million dollars worth of communications satellites to Beijing. The White House said the sale was unrelated to concern about China's sale of nuclear weapons to other countries or to regional security.

On Tuesday, Perry said he was concerned but not alarmed that China was using "military maneuvering'' to try to influence Taiwan's March 23 democratic presidential elections.

Perry said he did not see an imminent military threat from China. Asked what the United States would do if China did threaten Taiwan, Perry said he could not be more specific than the commitment spelled out in the Taiwan Relations Act, which says belligerent actions concerning the future of the island would be "of grave concern'' to the United States.

Taiwan is the seat of the Nationalist government that fled China's mainland in 1949 after losing a civil war to communist-led forces. Beijing regards Taiwan as a renegade province.

Perry's remarks were in response to audience questions at a speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Perry said he expects no armed confrontation between China and Taiwan.

"I am concerned about the military maneuvering the Chinese are doing to -- in not so subtle ways -- threaten Taiwan, to try to influence their election,'' Perry said. "I'm concerned about the military buildup that's going on in China today,'' he added. "I do not see this as a threat yet, but I am concerned.''

?U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that China sold sensitive nuclear weapons-related equipment to Pakistan last year, an act that could lead the Clinton administration to halt U.S. government financing for nearly $10 billion worth of U.S. business deals in China.

The Washington Post reported that Clinton's advisers are studying the intelligence report to determine how they should respond.

Perry said Chinese officials asked Joseph Nye, then the assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, during a visit to Beijing last November how Washington would respond if Taiwan were threatened.

Perry said Nye answered: "We don't know what we would do, because it's going to depend on the circumstances, and you don't know what we would do.''

and refuses to rule out the use of force to retake it