US intelligence agencies believe China is aiding Pakistan's effort to build long-range missiles that could carry nuclear weapons, according to a report Sunday in the New York Times.
Officials attending a series of classified congressional briefings told the daily that China had stepped up the shipment of specialty steels, guidance systems and technical expertise to Pakistan, Beijing's longtime strategic ally.
Intelligence agencies reportedly have sighted Chinese experts around Pakistan's newest missile factory, which appears partly based on a Chinese design, the Times wrote.
Experts note that military aid to Pakistan appears to have intensified since India and Pakistan set off tit-for-tat nuclear tests in 1998, the daily said. Both countries view India as a strategic rival.
The Times added that the revelations were apparently contributing to the reluctance of the Senate leadership to schedule a vote on permanent normal trading relations with China -- a measure, which already has passed in the House.
A proposed Senate bill would constrain China's exports of missile technology, imposing automatic sanctions on companies or states if there is "credible evidence" that Beijing has exported sensitive technology or materials.
On Tuesday, the Clinton administration sends a large high-level delegation to Beijing for the first high-level negotiations over arms control since November 1998.
Those talks have been suspended for more than a year after the accidental American bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade - WASHINGTON (AFP)
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